Lane to receive $7.5 million from CPS for parking lot renovation

Renovations to possibly close parking lot for 2023 summer


Blueprint rendering of Lane’s upcoming parking lot renovations. (Image courtesy of Rene Luis)

By Alex Burstein

Lane’s parking lot has plenty that people complain about. Too few spots, unsafe drivers and more.

But according to Lane’s Building Operations Manager Rene Luis, the biggest problem currently lies below the surface, quite literally.

Luis said that Lane has a lot of sewer lines beneath the parking lot that are collapsed. The result? When it rains, it floods.

The flooding has affected more than just the lot though, with water leaking into the Lane basement. It also previously leaked into classroom sinks, though a backflow prevention project within the past two years stopped that leakage.

Now, with an estimated budget of $7.5 million, CPS has committed to re-doing Lane’s lot over a likely two-year period. But don’t expect big changes.

It’s going to look almost the same,” Luis said. “It’s not really going to change too much.”

Instead, the work is mostly going to be done underground. The process started with “televising” the sewer lines to figure out the issues, Luis said. This alone cost around $30,000, and it revealed cracks and separations. This is what has caused the flooding.

The complete process is now going into its fourth year of planning. According to Luis, the school started to notice issues right before former Principal Brian Tennison began in 2016.

“We brought it up to facilities back then,” Luis said. “There was a lot of like band aid work that was done—like televising the sewer lines trying to determine what could be the issues—because ultimately it was the leaking, the water that was coming in, we weren’t really concerned with the parking lot.”

But as the school started to look closer, another problem was discovered. Potholes in the parking lot would fill with water, and when cars drove in them, the potholes would get worse, according to Luis. This, combined with the sewage issues and Chicago building codes for large parking lots, set the renovation plans into motion.

A new sewage system isn’t the only change that will be coming to the lot though. The lot will be repaved and new lines will be painted. There also will be an increase in concrete “ovals” where parking lot lights will be and more speed bumps.

“[This helps with] slowing down the people that drive way too fast in our parking lot, and then obviously for the safety of the students,” Luis said.

A few additional spots and new fencing for the drivers education facility are also planned.

While the plan doesn’t necessarily require complicated work, Luis said time is the biggest issue.

“[The biggest problem] is having the timeline that we have, because all work has to be done in the summer before school starts. That’s the huge timeline. If we didn’t have that hurdle, oh yeah, this would be easier,” Luis said.

To help remedy this, the project has been split into a likely two-summer project. While this is subject to change based on what company wins the CPS bidding, the current plan is to work on the main section of the parking lot in summer 2023, before doing Stadium Drive, the Drivers Ed lot, the loading dock and other surrounding areas in summer 2024.

CPS Press Secretary Evan Moore told The Champion that “The majority of the work for the project is anticipated to occur Summer 2024.”

“Everyone always thinks, ‘Oh, you have the entire summer.’ Really you have way less,” Luis said. “We are looking at maybe seven weeks of work or eight weeks of work, and that’s every day Monday through Friday. The other challenge is we have Summer of Algebra, we have OSD programs that happen during the summer, we have athletics during the summer—there will be no parking lot.”

While the project plans have become more concrete in recent months, question marks still remain when working with such old land.

“We don’t know what’s in the ground,” Luis said. “No one’s seen it for over 100 years. So what’s going to be in there? We don’t know.”