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Plans To Alter Chicago's Lake Shore Drive Hit A Bump: 'They're Proposing To Rebuild More Of The Same'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- On Lake Shore Drive, there's a proposed widening project moving ahead.

But some are saying not so fast.

The $3 billion project would update a seven-mile stretch between Grand and Hollywood avenues. CBS 2's Meredith Barack reports not everyone thinks the city's plans are ideal.

Chicago Avenue Looking North CTT_TA Rendering
(Credit: City of Chicago)

The project is being led by IDOT and the Chicago Department of Transportation, who said the changes are needed because the age of Lake Shore Drive and right now, the public can give their thoughts on the redevelopment.

One group with a strong opinion is Better Streets Chicago and the group hopes the city hears its ideas before making a final decision.

Chicagoans deserve better. That's what Kyle Lucas thinks when it comes to proposed changes along what he calls the crown jewel of Chicago.

"I think a lot of that love really is encompassed in the fact that it's our lakefront and that it's our skyline. Not so much that it's a highway," he said.

Foster Avenue CTT-TA Rendering
(Credit: City of Chicago)

Lucas is one of the co-founders of Better Streets Chicago, a group focused on improving streets for pedestrians, cyclists, those in wheelchairs and people taking buses.

"What we find problematic is that they're calling it redefining the drive but there's nothing about the project that redefines anything," Lucas said. "They put many different little bits and pieces of something different on the table but ultimately what they're proposing is to rebuild more of the same."

Oak Street Beach CTT-TA Rendering
(Credit: CBS)

There are currently five proposals for the project that vary by the number of traffic and bus lanes. Lucas said they would prefer a boulevard with protected bike lanes or rapid bus transit, similar to the "L" at a fraction of the cost. He believes just adding to the current roadway will create more noise, more pollution and less access to the lakefront.

"This is 80-year-old infrastructure," Lucas said. "So this is a project that is going to have tremendous impact for generations to come and when IDOT is presenting proposals, I would love to see more of a consideration of what kind of impact that will have for the future generations."

A spokesperson for CODT said none of the five proposals will take away parkland and all will provide environmental benefits, and improved access to the lakefront and the lakefront trail.

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