LAKE FOREST — An approximate $1.1 million, three-month project lowering Lake Forest’s south beach access road at Forest Park Beach started September 5. The project, which is designed to reverse 30 years of erosion, will close the street to traffic for the rest of the boating season.
The work is scheduled for completion by Thanksgiving, according to Sally Swarthout, the city’s director of parks, recreation and forestry. She expects the new road to be ready for the 2018 beach and boating year.
While the south access road is closed, the north entrance is limited to one-way traffic over part of the route, according to a report by Chuck Myers to the Lake Forest City Council September 5 at City Hall. He said erosion caused by heavy rain in July is being studied to determine a course of action.
As work started on the south road, excavation commenced.
“You can’t go down there anymore,” said Myers. “A lot of trucks will be going in and out. They will be excavating a lot of dirt.”
Myers did not say how much earth would be moved, but he said trucks loaded with dirt will leave the area by taking Deerpath Road east to Sheridan Road, south to Westleigh Road, west to Highway 41 and out of the city.
The problem first surfaced just over a year ago, prompting the city to implement temporary fixes until an engineering study could be completed. A contract was approved more than a year later. The project was unanimously approved by the council August 7 at City Hall.
“We got 30 good years out of the road,” said Swarthout. “The bluff eroded. It shifted and sloughed off.”
Swarthout said the new road will have a gentler slope than the existing one. She said the old road replaced 30 years ago had an even more pronounced pitch. She said that when the work is done, it will be lower than it is now and completely safe.
The budget for the project is slightly more than $1.2 million. Along with grading and installing a new asphalt road, there will also be landscaping.
Swarthout said people who use power boats at the beach and launch received refunds for the rest of the season. Sailboats are stored at the beach and sailors can gain access them by the foot path.
“If they want to drive they can use the north road,” said Swarthout.
There were no erosion problems at the north access road until 6.7 inches of rain fell on the city in a 14-hour period July 11 and 12, according to a July 18 DailyNorthShore.com story. After that storm, Swarthout said the erosion made two-way traffic on the road unsafe.
Myers said city employees worked as flaggers to keep beach users safe over the summer but people using the road now must use more caution. There are stop signs where the one lane road starts and stops. Drivers must watch for oncoming traffic and yield.
“Now people will have to self regulate,” said Myers.
Swarthout said the city is conducting an engineering study to determine exactly what must be done to reverse the effect of the erosion. Once that happens, the city will solicit bids to remediate the situation.
City Marketing Plan Picks up Steam
“Welcome home, Lake Forest,” the city’s marketing project designed to promote the benefits of living in the city, is entering the fifth month of an advertising campaign, according to Alderman Prue Beidler. The campaign has included education, the beach and safety.
Beidler said an interactive brochure is now on the city’s website. Click here to see the full online brochure.
“The aim is to create a story of the superior side of this town,” said Beidler.