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North Branch Bike Trail will add 4.2 miles

Monday, November 08, 2010
Chicago Sun-Times
by Mary Wisniewski

The Cook County Forest Preserve District is planning a 4.2-mile extension to the North Branch Bike Trail, carrying it from its current southern stopping point at Devon and Caldwell to the east end of LaBagh Woods on Foster Avenue and Kostner.

The project includes two new bridges and a new at-grade railroad crossing with a signal. At Foster, cyclists would have access to city-designated bike routes.

So if you had enough granola bars, you could ride the North Branch all the way from the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe to Foster, then over to the lakefront trail to downtown Chicago.

The trail extension will also serve to keep bicyclists and pedestrians off Central Avenue between Elston and Caldwell, which can be a dangerous stretch of road, said Donald Walsh, president of the Indian Woods Community Association.

"We have had some fatalities there during rush hour," he said. "That area is prone to problems."

The first phase of the project will run from Devon to Forest Glen Avenue, and has been funded with $3 million in federal funds from the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program.

The engineering for the project is going on now, and construction should be completed in 2013, said David Landeweer, engineer on the project for URS Corp.

The new trail would run through existing forest preserve property, so no land acquisition is required, Landeweer said.

The next phase of the project hasn't been funded yet, so it's not clear when it can be completed. Landeweer said the entire trail extension could be done in five years, but that would depend on funding.

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