New Trails, Extensions & Improvements
New trails, extensions and improvements are currently under construction or in the planning stages, thanks in large part to federal grants covering 80% of the project costs.
The grand opening of the 1-mile Lake-Cook extension of the North Branch Bicycle Trail was held on September 13, 2014. This extension borders the Chicago Botanic Gardens, a key partner in the project, and links the North Branch trail to the Green Bay Trail.
A southern extension of the North Branch Bicycle Trail that will extend the North Branch trail south from Devon and Caldwell to the Chicago Park District’s trail system Gompers Park is also in the planning process. More information on this project can be found here.
In the southeast part of Cook County, IDOT has contracted for construction of critical missing links in the Forest Preserves’ Thorn Creek Bicycle Trail to connect it to both the Burnham Greenway and the Old Plank Road Trail. A second stage of construction is planned to start in 2015 that will make an additional southern connection to the Forest Preserve’s Sauk Trail.
Perhaps the most significant investment in 2014 is the start of construction in southeast Cook County on the West Segment of the new Calumet-Sag Bicycle Trail. Seven miles of new paved trail will connect the Centennial Trail in Lemont to Cicero Avenue in Alsip. The West Segment opens to the public after a Grand Opening Ceremony on June 6, 2015 (National Trails Day). Additional eastern segments of the trail are planned to start construction in 2015 and 2016.
In addition to construction of major regional trails, construction on two new loop trails at Orland Grassland and the Oak Forest Heritage Preserve is also currently underway and will be completed by summer 2015. These trails will include special new interpretive signage and outdoor seating. The loop trails and county-wide improvements are funded through the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s 2012 bond issue. Additional interpretative projects along the trails at Deer Grove and Tinley Creek are also planned for 2015. County-wide improvements to the trails system, including bridge and underpass repairs, reconstruction and repairs of paved and unpaved trails, and trail crossing safety improvements are also planned.
The Forest Preserves also completed its first Trail Master Plan and Policy in March, 2014. The master plan can be viewed here.
Under construction. The new 26-mile Cal–Sag Trail will be the primary east-west multi-purpose trail in the south suburbs, linking the Centennial and I&M Canal trails in the west to the Burnham Greenway and Chicago Lakefront trails in the east. The Forest Preserves of Cook County will construct 7.1 miles of the trail through Lemont, Willow Springs and Palos Park.
The West Segment of the trail, from the Centennial Trail in Lemont to Cicero Avenue in Alsip, opens to the public after a Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on June 6, 2015 (National Trails Day). Additional eastern segments of the trail are planned to start construction in 2015 and 2016.
The project is funded by the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program. For more information on the project, visit Friends of the Cal-Sag Trail’s website.
Thorn Creek Bicycle Trail Completion
Under construction. The project consists of completing two existing gaps in the Thorn Creek Trail System. Currently under construction is 4.1 miles of paved trail, three bridges and one underpass closing the first gap between Chicago Heights/Glenwood Road (at Glenwood Woods South) and 183rd Street and Cottage Grove (at Sweet Woods). Also under construction is a segment from the intersection of the “future” Old Plank Road Trail in Chicago Heights (Hickory St & Campbell Ave) to the existing paved trail at Joe Orr Road (at Joe Orr Woods). Have your bike ready to start riding 11 miles of connected paved trail by June.
Also planned is an additional .65 miles and a railroad underpass from the “future” Old Plank Road Trail southward to 26th Street. This will close the second gap and connect to the existing paved trail at Sauk Trail to provide 16.6 miles of connected trails. Completion of these two segments will close a significant gap in the Grand Illinois Trail.
The project is funded by the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program.
North Branch Trail Southern Extension
Anticipated construction start June 2015. The new southern extension will add an additional 3.1 miles on the south end, from Devon and Caldwell to Irene Hernandez Woods at Foster and Kostner Avenues. The extension will provide a connection to the City of Chicago’s Lakefront Trail via on-street bike lanes. More information on this project can be found here.
Loop Trail at Orland Grassland
The 4.5-mile perimeter loop trail at Orland Grassland will provide a buffer from the valuable natural areas, while also showcasing the restoration work that has taken place there over the past decade.
Oak Forest Heritage Preserve
A new loop trail through the Oak Forest Heritage Preserve will follow the rolling topography of the site, highlighting the historically and ecologically significant areas.
2014 and Beyond
Projects slated for 2014 and beyond include the Sand Ridge Bicycle Trail Project, a 1.3 mile long paved trail, connecting the existing Burnham Greenway Trail to the Sand Ridge Nature Center, in the communities of South Holland, Lansing and Calumet City. A new connection to the Burnham Greenway Trail through Eggers Woods in the southeast side of Chicago will also be added in 2014. The project is funded by the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP). Other work includes partnering with the Village of Hoffman Estates on a paved extension that will link the Poplar Creek Trail to the Sears corporate campus; and rebuilding the Spring Lake unpaved trail in the Barrington area.