Work completed on Navy Pier Flyover Project in Chicago

New pedestrian and bike bridge over Chicago River creates a continuous 18-mile Lakefront Trail

May 13, 2021 / 2 minute read
Work completed on Navy Pier Flyover Project in Chicago
Image: Chicago Department of Transportation

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) this week held a ribbon cutting to open the Navy Pier Flyover Project.

The pedestrian and bike bridge links the two halves of Chicago’s signature Lakefront Trail and creates an uninterrupted, 18-mile ribbon from 71st Street to Hollywood Avenue. The Chicago Lakefront is a significant part of the city’s tourism industry. 

The Navy Pier Flyover is a steel and concrete pedestrian and bike bridge that was constructed along the east side of the Lake Shore Drive Bridge. It extends for almost half a mile (2,160 ft) from Jane Addams Park and the Ohio Street Beach to DuSable Harbor on the south side of the Chicago River. It also includes a ramp for pedestrians and bikes that connects the trail to Navy Pier. The project was built in three phases starting in 2014 as funding became available, which resulted in the timeline being stretched out longer than initially anticipated. Funding for the $64 million project came from federal and state sources.

“Building the Navy Pier Flyover was an incredibly complex design and engineering challenge,” CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi said in a statement. “The final product is a critical and long-awaited improvement at an intensely busy point in the trail. Paired with the Park District’s work to provide trail separation, the Flyover now seamlessly connects our north and south lakefront for the hundreds of thousands of people who use it throughout the year.” 

The Flyover portion of the project which carries the Lakefront Trail over Illinois Street and Grand Avenue was opened at the end of 2018. This eliminated two major bottlenecks on the Lakefront Trail at Lower Lake Shore Drive and Illinois and Grand, where on busy summer weekends thousands of people walking, jogging, and riding bikes had to share space with cars.

The final major element of the project involved tunneling through the two bridge houses on the east side of the movable bridge to allow for widening the trail to more than 16 ft. Widening this segment over the Chicago River also required retrofitting the existing bridge with a cantilever structure on the east side of the span. Before the widening, the section over the bridge varied from 12 ft to 8 ft at several pinch points. The new, expanded pedestrian and bike trail over the river will range from about 19.5 ft to 21.5 ft. 

The designer for phases 1 and 2 was HNTB and Muller + Muller; the designer for phase 3 was WSP USA. The prime contractor for phase 1 was FH Paschen; the prime contractor for phases 2 and 3 was Granite Construction. T.Y. Lin International was the construction manager.

The Flyover project was listed as one of the Top 10 Bridge Projects of 2020 by Roads & Bridges Media.

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SOURCE: Chicago Department of Transportation

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