Billionaire Ken Griffin donates $4.75M to repair Chicago Lakefront Trail

The Lakefront Trail and the 606 are set to reopen next week

Jessica D'Onofrio Image
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Billionaire Ken Griffin donates $4.75M to repair Chicago Lakefront Trail
The contribution enabled work to repave damaged sections of the pedestrian and bike paths while the trail was closed this spring.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's iconic Lakefront Trail has been punished by storms and beach erosion and a local billionaire is once again coming to the rescue.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Park District announced Thursday that philanthropist and CEO of Citadel Ken Griffin is donating $4.75 million dollars to repair the city's Lakefront Trail.

"I want to thank Ken Griffin for stepping up again and identifying an opportunity to start this critical work during the trail's closure in order to restore one of our city's most valuable resources," said Mayor Lightfoot. "I look forward to witnessing the true and lasting effort this donation will allow us to make in preserving a pivotal piece of our great city for all our residents and visitors to enjoy."

The contribution, made in April, was already being used to repave damaged sections of the pedestrian and bike paths while the trail was closed this spring for two months to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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"Chicago's lakefront is one of the city's most beloved and iconic features," said Griffin. "I am proud to make this investment in the restoration and preservation of the lakefront trail, knowing that we all look forward to enjoying the lakefront this summer."

Billionaire Ken Griffin is donating nearly $5 million to repair the Lakefront Trail, Mayor Lori LIghtfoot announced Thursday.

Griffin previously donated $12 million back in 2016 to the Chicago Park District to help create distinct lanes for foot and wheeled traffic on the entire 18 mile trail in an effort to make it safer.

The funds will also be used to protect the lakefront from future storms and will stabilize and strengthen key sections of the shoreline along the Lakefront Trail, particularly on the South Side.

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City officials said they're grateful for it as they continue to battle Mother Nature.

"It is not the final solution," said Chicago Park District Superintendent Mike Kelly. "It is in some respects temporary, the permanent solutions are in the tens of millions of dollars and that's why we're working with the federal government to find those solutions."

Earlier this week, the city announced the Lakefront Trail will re-open on June 22. When it re-opens, people can use it between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., but they must remain in constant motion.

The mayor also made another big announcement that the 606 Trail will re-open on Monday as well with the same restrictions.

The city says be prepared to see people who have been designated as social distance ambassadors on the Lakefront and The 606. They will be there to keep people from gathering.

The Chicago Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently began a project to stabilize the lakefront at Lake Shore Drive and 49th Street after the area, known as Morgan Shoal, suffered damage from storms in the fall and winter.

The project involves rebuilding a portion of the Lakefront Trail, which is expected to be completed in about three months.