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Project Profiles

Riverwalk Expansion/Wacker Drive Reconstruction Project


Chicago, Illinois

Project Sponsor / Borrower

City of Chicago/Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT)

Program Areas

Project FinanceTIFIANon-Road Pricing Revenue




The project encompasses the following elements of the Wacker Drive Reconstruction Project, a major initiative to improve transportation along Wacker Drive, strengthen intermodal links, and establish a continuous pedestrian walkway along the south bank of the Chicago River:

  • Wacker Drive - Full reconstruction of Upper and Lower Wacker Drive from Randolph Street to Congress Drive
  • Riverwalk Expansion Phases 1, 2, and 3 - Adjacent to Wacker Drive from Michigan Avenue to Lake Street, along the south bank of the Main Branch of the Chicago River

The Riverwalk is a planned public walkway along the banks of the Chicago River, connecting the lakefront with downtown Chicago. When complete, it will extend from Michigan Avenue to Lake Street, a distance of about 0.7 mile. The one-block portion from Michigan to Wabash Avenue was constructed by CDOT in 2009 using tax-increment financing.

The remaining Riverwalk phases comprise the six blocks from State Street to Lake Street. Although each block will be separated by an existing bridge that crosses the Chicago River, the blocks will be connected by at-grade under-bridge connections, providing six continuous blocks of pedestrian walkway along the river. Each block will feature a distinct theme. Design elements include bicycle and pedestrian facilities, ADA-compliant access, public seating, sustainable native plant landscaping, and recreational spaces. Landscaping will replace the industrial seawall and provide habitat protection and restoration of the Chicago River.

The project will improve transportation along this important corridor and enhance safety for pedestrians with bicycle paths and pedestrian trails along the continuous promenade. The project also strengthens intermodal links to public transportation facilities provided by the Chicago Transit Authority and Metro Commuter rail.


The estimated eligible costs for the Wacker Drive Reconstruction project total $419.5 million, which includes $307.5 million for Wacker Drive, $9.4 million for Riverwalk Phase 1, and $102.6 million for Riverwalk Phases 2 and 3.

Funding Sources

TIFIA loan - $98,660,000

Federal funds - $232,735,709

State/Local funds - $88,097,642

Project Delivery / Contract Method


Project Partner


Project Advisors / Consultants

To the Borrower:

  • Hunden Strategic Partners - Feasibility and Financial Consultant
  • Ice Miller LLP - Legal Counsel
  • Design team:
    • Sasaki Associates Inc.
    • Alfred Benesch & Co


  • TIFIA Legal Advisor - Squire Sanders LLP
  • TIFIA Financial Advisor - Montague DeRose and Associates, LLP/High Street Consulting Group, LLC



Duration / Status

Construction is completed on the Wacker Drive and Riverwalk Phase 1 elements of the project. Construction on Phase 2 began in early 2014 and construction on Phase 3 is scheduled to begin in early 2015. Completion of construction for the entire Riverwalk is expected by 2016.

TIFIA Credit Assistance

Direct Loan: $98.66 million

The security for the TIFIA loan is a pledge of the City's share of State Motor Fuel Tax Revenue and Project Revenue, which consists of rent and fees derived from tour boats, private boat docking, charter boats, retail leases, advertising, and sponsorships. TIFIA debt service is structured such that the Project Revenue covers TIFIA repayments, minimizing the impact on Motor Fuel Tax Revenue, which serves as back-up security. Interest payments begin in 2015 and the final maturity of the TIFIA loan is 2048.

Financial Status / Financial Performance

The TIFIA credit agreement was executed on June 12, 2013.


  • Leveraging of innovative financing streams generated by the project to advance the final phases of the Riverwalk Expansion

Related Links / Articles

Chicago DOT Project Website


Scott Kubly
Managing Deputy Commissioner
30 North LaSalle, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60602
Tel: (312) 744-7335

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
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