Chicago is a beautiful city on a beautiful lake, but to keep a highway between the two would be a huge missed opportunity for our city, our region, and our future. The Illinois Department of Transportation, known as the highway planners for the state, is currently in charge of a flawed planning process that will result in keeping an unnecessary highway for at least another 50, if not 100, years.
Instead of going along with a flawed process led by bureaucrats and engineers with a bias toward moving private cars and trucks, Chicagoans should at least have the opportunity to consider what benefits a world-class lakefront, free of traffic noise and pollution, would bring. Would it make downtown more exciting to employers and employees alike? Would it make the Mag Mile a more exciting destination if a lakefront stroll were part of the experience? Would more convention planners pick Chicago if it offered an open-space and recreation amenity unparalleled in other cities? Could we create a community land trust to create space for lower-density affordable housing and affordable spaces for businesses that would contribute positive activity to the lakefront? We should be discussing these issues and others alongside the purported merits of X, Y, or Z design alternatives.
Furthermore, Chicago is, or used to be at least, known for big ideas. Are we a city of bold ideas and a real commitment to a sustainable future? If yes, then we need to show it. A world-class lakefront would demonstrate that Chicago is planning for tomorrow instead of planning for yesterday.