Equipment parked just south of the 47th Street bridge over Lake Shore Drive has been used recently by an Army Corps of Engineers contractor to repair sections of the shoreline revetment between 51st and 47th Streets.

Emergency repair work on the Morgan Shoal section of the Lake Michigan shoreline between the 47th Street and 51st Street pedestrian bridges has started, said Michael Padilla, United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Chicago District project manager.

Chicago-based SYTE Corp., a construction and maintenance service firm,  was given the contract for the repair work of the storm-damaged shoreline section, said Padilla. SYTE started the work in early June and should complete it within a few weeks. Options to the SYTE’s current contract could be exercised, however, once the City provides funding, extending repair work into mid-summer, added Padilla.

The contract repair work involves placing armor rock and reinforced concrete blocks into the existing revetment north of the 51st pedestrian bridge. The optional work involves placement of an additional quantity of armor stone.

As reported by the Hyde Park Herald and other media outlets, damage to the Morgan Shoal shoreline area has threatened Lake Shore Drive for years. Winter storms and the record-high lake levels of 2019-2020 exacerbated the threat to such an extent that immediate emergency action was considered necessary by the City and the USACE.

The emergency work required the review of the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office (ISHPO). In March, the ISHPO reviewed the proposal for emergency work and found no adverse effect.

The emergency work was initially scheduled to start in late March or early April but was delayed because contractual changes were necessary due to changing conditions at the site from spring storms.

The Morgan Shoal section of the lakeshore is one of two major sections of the lakeshore authorized for extensive redesign and reconstruction by the Water Resources Development Acts of 1996 and 1999 through the Chicago Shoreline Protection Project (CSPP). According to the USACE Chicago District website, “The two remaining segments, 45th to 51st Street (Morgan Shoals) and Promontory Point, will be completed by the City of Chicago and Chicago Park District. Due to funding shortfalls, no schedule for completion is available at this time.”

The last public presentation by the USACE of extensive lakeshore designs as part of the CSPP, took place in late February of 2015. The presentation involved a discussion of building a water-focused park along the Morgan Shoal section of the lakefront.

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