CHICAGO (CBS) -- A major pedestrian project has moved a step closer to reality in the Bronzeville neighborhood.
CBS 2's Susanna Song reports construction has been slated to begin this fall on two new pedestrian and bicycle bridges over Lake Shore Drive at 41st and 43rd streets. They will replace an outdated bridge at 43rd Street that has no ramp for bicycle or wheelchair access.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he wants to make sure "that folks from every part of city have access to the greatest natural resource we have, which is Lake Michigan."
"For too long, people have been cut off. They can see the lake, they can watch others, but they have to go a distance – a mile either way – to have access to the lake," he added.
Officials also said the project would create more than 420 jobs, and cost $42.5 million. It's been funded in part by an $18.75 million federal TIGER grant, established during the recent recession to invest in infrastructure. Additional funding will come from state and federal programs.
Cordogan, Clark & Associates designed the S-curved mono-truss structure bridges, based on a winning entry from a 2004 design competition. The bridges pass over Lake Shore Drive and a set of railroad tracks, to connect the Bronzeville, Kenwood, and Oakland neighborhoods to the Lakefront Trail, a popular path for joggers, cyclists, roller bladers, and skateboarders.
"Vehicle miles driven are down. Bike miles ridden are up. People are walking more, and riding their bikes more, and we should fund for that new generation," U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley said.
U.S. Sen. Durbin said the bridges would be used for more than just recreational purposes.
"This is going to include emergency access. This pedestrian bridge is wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles. There could be a moment in time when this bridge is going to be a life-saver as well," he said.
Construction already has begun on a separate project for another pedestrian and bicycle bridge at 35th Street.
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