New funding has been secured for the protection and restoration of Chicago’s shoreline from Wilmette to East Side on the Indiana border. The funding comes from the $1.3 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed last November of which Illinois will receive $17 billion to improve highways, bridges, and water infrastructure among others. The first phase of spending in Chicago will go to a major study of the lakefront and execution of outstanding projects.
The last major investment on the stability of the lakeshore occurred in 1996 when 23 projects received $301 million from federal, state, and local funding, these included the reconstruction of eight miles of shoreline and a breakwater protecting the South Water Purification Plant. Fast forward to 2022 and two of the most crucial projects, the reconstruction of Morgan Shoal and Promontory Point, are yet to begin and will take multiple years to construct as the city will begin to seek bidders for Morgan Shoal late this year.
The $71.7 million Morgan Shoal project will add seven acres of parkland as a barrier for the adjacent neighborhood from the rising lake levels, waves, and piling ice. However similar conditions have been reported across the city from crumbling wood and stone shoreline piles, eroding beaches, road damage, and extensive flooding extending to non-lakefront areas, this has led to many calling for immediate remediation of the issues fearing safety, building stability, and home values.
Now the Army Corps, who have led restoration projects like Northerly Island and Wooded Island in Jackson Park, will embark on an extensive review of the city’s shoreline needs. The $3 million project will be equally split by city and federal funds and will focus on Juneway Beach, Promontory Point, 67th to 73rd Streets, and the South Water Purification Plant according to a Block Club article on the funding.
Also included in the deal is $225.8 million towards the Brandon Road Lock and Dam to add an electric, underwater sound, and bubble barriers to prevent the invasive Asian Carp from swimming into the lake. Although Chicago only controls a portion of Illinois’ 63 miles of shoreline, its preservation ensures the lake continues to provide billions in economic gains and drinking water to over seven million citizens.