CHICAGO (WLS) --Upgrades to Fullerton Avenue Beach, including a new park space and separate paths for biking and running, were unveiled Wednesday as city and U.S. officials marked the completion of another phase of the ongoing Shoreline Restoration Project.
"We are creating more and more opportunities for families and others to use this shoreline in ways that many people around the country wouldn't appreciate," said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).
The $32 million project converted a failed beach cell into nearly six acres of park land. Engineers used landfill dredged from Lake Michigan. The existing Lakefront Trail was split in the process, relieving a notorious choke point.
"We struggled with this point of the lakefront," said Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd Ward. "Now we all have room to breathe, room to exercise and enjoy ourselves."
Already, bikers and joggers say they like the changes.
"It's got enough space to walk and bike and run and you don't get on top of each other," said Priti Marwah.
The improvements to Fullerton Avenue Beach are part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to invest in the lakefront, which he calls "the city's front door." A total of 9.5 miles of shorefront will be enhanced when the restoration project is complete.
"This is our Grand Canyon. This is our Yellowstone Park. It is a national treasure," Emanuel said.
Another phase of the Fullerton Avenue Beach improvement is the conversion of the Theater on the Lake building so that it can be used as a year-round performance space. Work on that is expected to start later this year.