Barriers going in to reduce lakefront flooding

Concerns about damage from lakefront flooding are prompting action by the city as vulnerable areas along the lakefront will be getting concrete barriers to reduce the damage from potential flooding.

“When the storm is strong, it'll take pieces of concrete and throw them over the wall,” said Doug Shaeffer, a dog walker.

Shaeffer walks the lakefront trail at 49th Street twice a day, and while Wednesday the lake was calm enough for a relaxing swim, there are days when water is crashing over the rocks, causing major damage onshore. 

“You can see spots, down there and right here, where the water has just lifted sheets of asphalt up and deposited them over on the grass,” Shaeffer said. 

49th Street is one of eight lakefront locations where over the next three weeks, the city will be placing concrete barriers to protect residents and reduce damage from potential flooding. The locations run from Howard Beach on the North Side to 75th Street South.

The lake is at a near-record high. It's gone up six feet over the last six years and 15 inches in the last year alone. 

There's already been substantial damage along the lakefront trail at 49th Street, where some sections have had to be replaced with new asphalt. 

“I guess the level of everything is getting kind of messed up so the water's coming kind of high,” said Torrence Dabney.  

As to whether the city's concrete barriers will make a difference, that remains to be seen. 

“I think that the storms are going to get worse,” said Shaeffer. “And I don't know what the solution is to that, because the water has to go somewhere.”