Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin were among the dignitaries attending a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for the new, two-mile South Shore road, which opens to vehicular traffic Sunday.
The extension runs from Rainbow Beach at 79th down to 92nd Street and Ewing and is made to accommodate up to 27,000 vehicles each day, with two lanes in each direction and a bike lane. It is expected to draw many vehicles off of neighboring residential streets.
All of those present Saturday said seemed to be excited not just about the road itself, but also about what it means for future possibilities.
"It opens up this part of the south side of the Chicago to many more things and many more people. More biking. We have a road that is a modern 21st-century road. It is also opening up the lakefront for development of parks, as well as residential, commercial. You name it, this is the best thing since Swiss cheese," Quinn said.
The $64 million stretch was built through what used to be U.S. Steel South Works. It is a 600-acre site, which is bigger than Chicago's Loop, and the redevelopment is expected to change the face of the city.
The developer follows archetypal Chicago planner Daniel Burnham's edict to "make no small plans," turning a chunk of Chicago's industrial heritage, hopefully, into the home of thousands of residents and businesses over the next 40 years.
According to Quinn, it was constructed in an environment-friendly way.
A 5K run was planned after Saturday's dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The new southeast portion of Lake Shore Drive opens to traffic at 9 a.m. Sunday.