By Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune reporter
6:49 p.m. CST, January 30, 2013
Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago and the suburbs will receive $25.6 million to build and expand bicycle paths and walking trails that provide new connections between communities in addition to offering safe places for recreation, Gov. Pat Quinn announced Wednesday.
Of 54 projects statewide that are sharing $49.4 million in federal transportation enhancement funding, about half goes to 28 projects in the Chicago region, state officials said.
A sampling of projects follows:
- The Calumet-Sag Trail, $3.6 million awarded for the segments between Illinois Route 83 and 104th Avenue, and 104th and 86th avenues. The trail will be built along the banks of the Calumet-Sag Channel and the Calumet River, from Lemont in the west to Burnham in the east. Construction on the proposed 33-mile trail is expected to begin this year, and it is slated to open in stages starting in 2014, according to Friends of the Calumet-Sag Trail. The trail will link 14 communities in the southwest suburbs and connect to other trails, Metra stations, downtown business districts and recreational areas, officials said.
- The Millennium Trail in Lake County, $1.9 million awarded to construct a pedestrian and bike underpass at Rollins Road. The first segment of the planned 35-mile trail opened in 2002 at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda. The trail will eventually connect communities and forest preserves in the central, western and northern sections of the county.
- The North Shore Channel Trail, $979,600 awarded for construction of a pedestrian bridge near the Lincoln Village shopping center and Hood Avenue. Future improvements are also planned on the trail, which extends from Evanston to the Northwest Side of Chicago. Most of the trail runs alongside the North Shore Channel, a drainage canal built in 1909.
The Thorn Creek Bicycle Trail in southern Cook County, $1.1 million awarded to help pay for completion. One section of the trail runs through the Sauk Trail Lake area and another through Lansing Woods and North Creek Meadow. A planned extension will link the two segments and bring the total trail length to 17.5 miles.
“These grants are really make-it-or-break-it for many of these projects,” said Dan Persky, a spokesman for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. He noted that the grants are important because federal funding for bike paths, walking trails and other transportation-related enhancement projects has been cut by about 30 percent in MAP-21, the new federal transportation bill that runs through September 2014.