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North Branch Trail Extension Delayed After Price Tag Soars $2M

Thursday, June 04, 2015
DNA Info
by Heather Cherone

EDGEBROOK — Plans to extend the North Branch Trail south from Edgebrook to Mayfair are on hold until next year, since the multi-use path would cost $2 million more to build this summer than anticipated, Cook County Forest Preserve District officials said Wednesday.

The off-road trail will extend the 18-mile North Branch Trail three miles south through the Cook County Forest Preserves from Devon and Caldwell avenues to Foster and Kostner avenues near Gompers Park.

A request for proposals issued in May came in "significantly" higher than expected, said forest preserve spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis.

The lowest bid would have ballooned the forest preserve district's share of the project's cost by $1 million more than it budgeted, Lukidis said.

The project would allow runners, walkers and bikers to travel from from the Lakefront Bicycle Path to the Chicago Botanic Gardens in the North Shore.

The district is committed to the project, but officials hope the construction market will cool off in the fall, allowing the project to be completed on budget, Lukidis said. Construction is expected to take a year, officials said.

The trail extension — in the works since 2008 — had been expected to cost $7.7 million, with 80 percent coming from the federal government and the rest coming from the forest preserve district, officials said.

When it is built, the trail's alignment will not be changed in response to concerns voiced by Edgebrook residents that it will snarl traffic along Central Avenue.

A traffic signal will be installed at the forest preserve volunteer resource center, 6100 N. Central Ave., in Edgebrook, to allow the trail to cross Central Avenue and continue south.

Others objected to the trail because it will require that 425 trees be chopped down.

Almost half of those trees are dead or non-native plants that need to be removed regardless of the trail's construction, forest preserve district officials said.

The trail will require that a bridge be built over the Chicago River east of Central Avenue and north of Indian Road.

Another bridge will be built to allow the trail to soar over the Milwaukee District North Line Metra tracks near Indian Road and Ardmore Avenue.

The trail will cross the Edens Expressway via an existing underpass, which will be improved, and a new underpass will be built to allow the trail to cross Cicero north of LaBagh Woods in Forest Glen.



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