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Press Release: Year of the Trail: Forest Preserve District of cook County Plans New Trails, Improvements and Extensions in 2013

Highlights include the new Cal-Sag Trail, Completion of the Thorn Creek Paved Trail and Extensions of the North Branch Trail

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County is planning a series of trail projects in 2013, including constructing segments of the new Cal-Sag Trail, completing the Thorn Creek Trail and northern and southern extensions of the North Branch Trail.

Federal grants are providing funding for 80% of the project costs for the new trails and trail extensions.

“We are leveraging federal grants to make smart investments in our County’s trail system,” Forest Preserve District of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. “These projects will enhance regional connectivity, provide new opportunities for recreation and commuting, drive tourism and economic development, and increase livability and public safety.”

The District will also construct new loop trails at Orland Grassland and the Oak Forest Heritage Preserve. District-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 loop trails and District-wide improvements are funded through the Forest Preserve District’s 2012 bond issue.

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County is also set to begin a trail master planning process in 2013. The master plan will identify new trailhead locations, determine sites for bike rental and other concessions, and enhance trail signage. That project is supported with technical assistance from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

Additional interpretative projects along the trails at Deer Grove and Tinley Creek are also planned for 2013.

“An attractive, safe and well-maintained trail system is at the heart of the Forest Preserve District’s mission,” Forest Preserve District of Cook County General Superintendent Arnold Randall said. “By expanding and improving our trails, we can offer a better experience to our current users, and attract new audiences from around the county.”

Construction on all of the trails projects is expected to be completed in 2014.

Cal-Sag Trail

The new 28.6-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 Preserve District of Cook County will construct 9.6 miles of the trail through Lemont, Willow Springs and Palos Park.

The project is funded by the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) Program.

Thorn Creek Bicycle Trail Completion

The Thorn Creek Bicycle Trail Completion project will connect three separate portions of the existing Thorn Creek Trail System, and link the Thorn Creek Trail with the Old Plank Road Trail and the Burnham Greenway Trail. The project will add 4.75 miles of new trail in Thornton, Lansing, Glenwood, Chicago Heights and Park Forest to the existing 12.7 mile system.

The project is funded by the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) and   Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) Program.

North Branch Trial Extension

At 20 miles in length, the North Branch Bicycle Trail is the District’s longest linear trail system. The existing trail begins at Devon and Caldwell Avenues in Chicago and runs north through 10 communities, terminating in Glencoe at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

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. The northern .8 mile extension will start at the north end of the Garden and connect to the Greenway Trail, Lake County and to Metra and PACE Lines.  Construction is expected to start the summer of 2013.

The project is funded by the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) and  and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) Program.

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.


About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.