Lake Michigan flood barriers to be installed along select beaches starting Thursday night or Friday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of yards of jersey barriers will be installed along the lakefront in September to mitigate flooding at eight locations, the Chicago Department of Transportation said. The installation is expected to begin Thursday night or Friday.

Record high water levels in Lake Michigan have drastically raised the potential for flooding. While Wednesday was the perfect day for a September swim, if you wanted to sunbathe in Rogers Park you had to pick a spot on the grass, as high lake levels and erosion have wiped out the sand.

"I've watched it, just this year, almost every month, lose a foot," said Jenny Learner, Rogers Park resident.

Learner's apartment is right on the lake, giving her a close up view of the erosion that has left Juneway Beach a mess. The sidewalk is buckled and there is a huge sinkhole.

To prevent further erosion and keep the streets from flooding, the city plans to install barriers at four Rogers Park beaches, at Lake Shore Drive at Fullerton from Oak to North and two South Side locations.

"Because we anticipate we will get storms in the fall, that happens every year, and with high lake levels we want to make sure we are protecting residents," said Heather Gleason, Chicago Park District director of planning.

In addition, the Chicago Park District is working on a study that will get an engineering team on board to come up with short- and long-term solutions to beach erosion.

"We don't know what the study will conclude, but we are probably looking at more shoreline structures in the area," Gleason said.

Even though lake levels are cyclical and weather is unpredictable, the Park District is looking at erosion as a possible permanent problem. For residents near Juneway Beach, a solution can't come fast enough.

"Not fast enough for sure," Learner said. "We had a beautiful 100-year-old tree, I watched it fall. They could have saved it with more gravel."
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