Rush Convenes Community Stakeholder Meeting with Federal, Local Agencies on Southside Lakefront Erosion

Dec 3, 2019
Press Release

CHICAGO — Yesterday, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) convened a Community Stakeholders Meeting to address constituents’ concerns regarding the significant erosion of Chicago’s Southside lakefront and be informed regarding recommended long-term solutions.

Rep. Rush was joined by:

  • Colonel Aaron Reisinger, Commander for Army Corps of Engineers’ Chicago District;
  • Thomas Carney, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation; and 
  • Heather Gleason, Director of Planning and Development for the Chicago Park District

“Every year, thousands of residents and other visitors alike take in the beauty of our city’s crown jewel, the Lakefront. The eight miles of Chicago’s Southside shoreline includes six beaches, parks, and miles of pedestrian trails, all of which are a source of recreation, beauty, and respite. Unfortunately, near-record lake levels and longstanding neglect have made the future of the Southside lakefront vulnerable.

“I commend the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in their preservation of the lakefront, but more must be done to ensure that all parts of Chicago’s shoreline are protected from the ever-increasing water levels in Lake Michigan and the associated erosion taking place,” said Rep. Rush.

In the early 1990’s, the lakefront at 47th Street - 51st Street was identified as one of the eight most critical miles designated for reconstruction by federal, state, and local agencies. However, it remains one of two locations left unfinished and ultimately neglected. (The other is 57th Street & Promontory Point.)

Additional portions of the Southside lakefront need attention as erosion takes its toll.

Some results of this neglect include but are not limited to:

  • The 48th Street – 51st Street pedestrian trail has been closed indefinitely, with parts of the path beginning to cave in.
  • Lake rocks are tossed onto the walkway by strong, high waves.
  • Instead of the broad, concrete stair steps that buffer areas like Fullerton Beach, 47th – 51st Street rely on shoreline protections from the early 1900’s, which have effectively crumbled into the lake and formed makeshift revetments.

Rep. Rush has long supported the preservation of the lakefront shoreline. In particular, Rush has joined several congressional colleagues in requesting funding for a coastal resiliency study in next year’s budget; as well as funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which funds Great Lakes restoration projects.

Additional resources from yesterday’s meeting can be found here and here.