Mayor Rahm Emanuel Reveals Plan to Extend Chicago Riverwalk

by Chicago Agent


The proposed boardwalk will contain a bridge linking Upper Wacker Drive to the Chicago riverwalk.

By Natalie Terchek

Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed to lengthen the Chicago riverwalk by six blocks. According to Curbed, the new extension would run from State to under Lake Streets along the south branch of the Chicago River.

Under Emanuel’s proposal, each block would have its own theme with names such as The Marina (State to Dearborn), The Cove (Dearborn to Clark), The River Theater (Clark to LaSalle), The Swimming Hole (Lasalle to Wells), The Jetty (Wells to Frankin) and The Boardwalk (Franklin to Lake). The Marina would be designed for restaurant space and public seating, while the Cove could include kayak rental retail space and the Swimming Hole would provide recreational space.

“To really appreciate the Chicago River, it is essential to create accessible places where people can walk, wander, dine and relax,” Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River, said.

Other design elements include floating gardens, fishing piers and a bridge from Upper Wacker.

Completion of Riverwalk Will Create More Recreation

Emanuel said the project aims to connect the lakefront to the city’s downtown and create more recreation along the river, as well as new dining options.

“The Chicago River is our second shoreline,” he said in a statement. “It is now time to celebrate this incredible waterway with the completion of the entire riverwalk project, from Lake Michigan to the confluence of the entire river walk from Lake Michigan”

Illinois in April spent $10 million to clean the river’s high volume of wastewater from sewage treatment plants. Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn hope the river someday can be used for fishing and swimming. River advocates say that the riverwalk’s expansion is the next step.

“A completed riverwalk not only adds to the livability of the city, but it will enhance our economy by expanding our recreational offerings for tourists,” Lou Raison, president of Broadway in Chicago, said.

The Chicago Department Of Transportation submitted a letter of interest to the U.S. Department for project funding through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act. The project is estimated to cost between $90-$100 million. Emanuel said the city also will pursue sponsorship opportunities for maintenance and operations of new facilities.

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