CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - The power of Mother Nature is on display for anyone using the lakefront bike path in downtown Chicago.
Huge waves Wednesday night stripped the asphalt from parts of the trail, making it a tough ride or jog for the thousands who use it every day.
Just steps from the S-curve on Lake Shore Drive, the power of Lake Michigan is on full display. Giant waves fueled by strong northerly winds have wreaked havoc on the bike and jogging path bordering the lake.
The pounding waves stripped off a thick layer of asphalt, leaving debris scattered across the path and causing joggers and bikers to wobble through an impromptu obstacle course.
"Yeah, it's a mess,” one woman said.
"I just happened to want to ride down here today and my feet got a little wet,” a man added.
Lake erosion is always a problem, but it's getting much worse. Lake Michigan’s water level has surged four feet since 2013 and is predicted to rise another six inches by July. It’s also going to cost taxpayers money.
At Northerly Island, the brand new path installed by the Chicago Park District has already been washed out by the waves and will need an expensive repair.
The Army Corps of Engineers says all of Lake Michigan is feeling the effects.
"The storms are causing shoreline erosion. And with the increased lake levels the wave action is happening further and further up on the shoreline…Those waves that would have gotten to say the path that you're talking about, now are hitting directly on it,” said Roy Deda of Army Corps of Engineers.
Not only did the waves strip off all this asphalt, but they actually picked up two giant containers fully loaded with construction materials and moved them several feet."
Construction worker Giuseppe Dimiceli was working on building a barrier wall to protect the path from the waves, but the waves won.
"We had our barricades stacked up, dumpsters over here. Stakes, rebar is all blown back about 50 feet,” Dimiceli said.
FOX 32: And this is all from the waves last night?
"All last night. Picked it up,” he added.
A bike ride becomes a water ride, which is something we'll just have to get used to for a while.
"It's certainly something you're gonna have to be concerned about, if the water keeps creeping up you're gonna have to deal with it at some point,” one man said.
The Chicago Park District says it is monitoring the situation and will continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to shore up Chicago’s shoreline.