WHITING | Improvement of the city's Lake Michigan shoreline entered a new phase on Monday with the completion of needed infrastructure upgrades at Lakefront Park.
Though the buried water main, sewer lines and utility channels under the adjacent railroad tracks remain mostly invisible, the work was necessary for the rest of the planned $43 million park revitalization to happen, said Mayor Joe Stahura.
The renovation plan includes a two-tiered boardwalk along the shore, a boat harbor, concert venue and connections to hiking and biking trails between downtown Chicago and much of the Calumet Region.
Design and construction of the infrastructure work was administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through a $1.5 million federal grant.
"I'm proud to be able to stand here today with the project completed on schedule and a little under budget," said Col. Vincent Quarles, Army Corps Chicago District commander.
Both Quarles and Stahura praised U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., whose support for the Marquette Plan to reclaim Lake Michigan for residents helped provide impetus and funding for the Whiting project.
Visclosky praised Stahura's vision and Quarles' skill for the successful completion of the infrastructure phase.
"By continuing to invest in the lakeshore, we will continue to attract visitors who will stimulate our local economy," Visclosky said. "All future generations are going to be beneficiaries of this work."
Designed by American StructurePoint and executed by Grimmer Construction, both of Highland, the Lakefront Park plan earned awards for excellence from the American Planning Association and the American Council of Engineering Companies.
The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority provided $19.4 million for the lakefront upgrade, with the remaining costs covered through industrial revenue and other grants.
Stahura said the renovated performing arts pavilion, new concession stand and restrooms, and expanded parking area should all be completed by Independence Day, with work on the shoreline to begin soon thereafter.
The eastern entrance to the park at Front Street is scheduled to be done by July 1, Stahura said.