Sunday, June 14, 2009

Central Area Action Plan: South Loop

As we posted a couple of months ago, Chicago has unveiled a plan for many neighborhoods in the downtown area. Many of these plans affect various areas of the Sloop and as a result we are going to have some posts over the next couple of weeks looking into these changes. Some of the changes are already underway, but most are plans that could happen sometime before 2020. Will they happen? Who knows, but it's still good to consider.
South Loop
Although many areas within the near south side claim the name "South Loop", the central area action plan deems the area south of Congress, north of Roosevelt, Lake Michigan on the east and Clark on the west as the South Loop. This area has seen a lot of transformation in recent years and has seen many higher education institutions grow in this neighborhood.

As we looked at before, Roosevelt and Congress have been classified by the city as "signature streets". With this comes improved pedestrian initiatives as well funds for beautification. We are not going to rehash on this, but feel free to click here for more info on the plans for these two streets.

Within this section we're going to look at plans along Michigan Avenue, Grant Park and other areas:

1) Grant Park and Central Station Green Space
The city recently demolished the old rail station at Roosevelt road that serviced the Metra and South Shore trains. This station was a huge eye sore and probably very unsafe (or at least it looked that way). This area looks much better now, but still could be better. The plan calls for improvements to this area by adding green space. We hope they build a park over the train tracks, but don't make it as touristy as Millennium Park. The best part of this area is that it's still relatively residential, so hopefully they keep it this way and just build more parkland as opposed to monuments and art (ie Millennium Park).

2) Public Transportation Improvement
Similar to the area designated in "1" this area hopefully will be built over with green space (however this probably won't happen for a very long time). In the central area action plan, it calls for more functional improvements that would help make the road more useful for vehicles connecting from McCormick Place to the loop.

3) CTA Red Line Modernization at Harrison Station
This is already going on. See post here. This is much needed and great for the South Loop, Printers Row and all the colleges in this area.

4) Bike Lane Markings and Improvements
This is a simple one. Mayor Daley loves bikes, but so do we.

5) Pedestrian Landing at Queen's Landing
This is a very interesting project and something we feel would be a good addition (mainly for tourist reasons). Everyone knows about the beauty of the majestic Buckingham Fountain, but the fact that people have to cross Lake Shore Drive to get from the lake to the fountain is silly and probably pretty unsafe. Tourists and residents line up at intersections close to the fountain and just wait...wait...wait for a safe time to cross the street. Some stupid people even try to cross the street while speeding traffic buzzes by.

The plan calls for improvements at grade level (which means there would simply be better signals to cross at street level), but there is also an alternative plan to create an underpass. The underpass is obviously much more expensive, but probably the way to go (in our opinion). This is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Chicago and could use a safer option to get to the fountain. Abovie is a picture from the Grant Park Conservancy. They've been lobbying for this idea for awhile. It would be pretty cool...however not sure if this is going to happen.

6) Lighting Improvements on Michigan and Congress
Not really sure what this means, does anyone know about this? Maybe it would be a better lighting system for the sidewalks?

Finally, as we mentioned above many higher education institutions have been expanding in this area. Personally we like this, but know that some of our readers aren't in the same boat. Like it or not, a recent article we just read talked about Chicago's Loop being the "biggest college town" in Illinois. We think this trend is going to continue...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Today I noticed that they've painted white paint marks outlining the pedestrian crosswalk at Congress/Wabash, as if some construction is about to begin.