Final phase of Chicago Riverwalk to open this weekend

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Phase 3 of the Chicago Riverfront is slated to open to the public later this weekend.

On Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city officials previewed the final stretch of the promenade, which runs from LaSalle Street to Lake Street.

The full 1.25-mile pedestrian and bike path starts at Lake Michigan.

"I remember when the river was an industrial highway. We've now created a recreational space, enjoyment space and opened up a second waterfront for the city of Chicago," Emanuel said during the tour.

The project was funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, which provided a loan of $98 million. The project also received $10 million in state funding.

"We didn't put any public money into this," Emanuel said. "Loan from federal government ... paid back through revenue from boat tours, taxi, retail, no public money yet it has inspired billions of dollars in investment for the city of Chicago."

The new sections that will open this week include:

The Water Plaza: A water feature for children and families to engage with water at the river's edge. (From LaSalle to Wells.)

The Jetty: A series of piers and floating wetland gardens with interactive learning about the ecology of the river, including opportunities for fishing and identifying native plants. (From Wells to Franklin.)

The Riverbank: An accessible walkway and new marine edge creates access to Lake Street and features a public lawn at the confluence. It provides an accessible route from lower to upper Wacker and Lake Street. The City is continuing to explore possibilities for how the room can be developed. (From Franklin to Lake.)

Vendors like Tiny Hatt, which opened in June when the last phase was completed, agree that the riverfront location can't be beat.

"From a business perspective, it's been great for us but I think from a city perspective it's fantastic, particularly with marathon people coming down here and commenting how nice this was," said John Lynch, manager of the Tiny Hatt.

This section of the riverwalk was designed by a team of architects including Sasaki and Ross Barney Architects and constructed by Alfred Benesch & Co. Engineers and Walsh Construction.
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