The Navy Pier flyover, meant to connect Chicago’s north and south Lakefront trails, has hit another in a long string of delays that have pushed its completion to the end of 2019 at the earliest.
On Friday, the last day of summer, the project missed another target: The Chicago Department of Transportation failed to award a contract for the third and final phase of the project before the end of summer 2018.
CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey said the contract is now expected to be awarded this fall. Work on the final phase, near the south bank of the Chicago River, will start by the end of the year, he said.
The project was initially slated to cost $45 million, but that ballooned to $60 million by last year. Claffey said the final total won’t be known until the contract for the final phase is awarded.
It’s not the first time the project has been delayed.
Phases One and Two were supposed to be done by spring of 2018, but they hit financial setbacks and design complications, Claffey said. The delays have left the tantalizingly visible first phase of the project — an impressive elevated path built alongside Lake Shore Drive near Navy Pier — closed and collecting debris for nearly two years now.
Claffey said the reason the elevated path has remained empty for so long is because it still needs to be connected back to the ground — and that connection process is part of “Phase Two.”
Phase Two ran into “design complications,” he said.
Still, Claffey said the department expects both Phases One and Two to be complete by the end of 2018. That means bikers and pedestrians will finally be able to avoid the congested — and sometimes dangerous path — on lower Lake Shore Drive just south of Grand Avenue. Instead, they’ll be able to travel from Ohio Street Beach to DuSable Park and Navy Pier on wide elevated paths.
Monica Eng is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her at @monicaeng or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.