Construction of North Branch trail extension delayed until 2016; no changes planned for route alignment
by BRIAN NADIG
Construction of the 3.1-mile southern extension of the North Branch bike and pedestrian trail has been delayed until next year because construction bids for the $6.7 million project were too high, according to the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
Plans had called for the construction to start this summer and last about a year, but the district plans to seek new bids this fall and to have the project start some time in 2016, said district spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis. The district believes that the bids were high because many of the larger contracting companies are busy with current roadway projects and that the bids should come in lower this fall, she said.
When the district put the project out for bid in March, no bids were received, while three bids were submitted in April, with the lowest at $8.4 million. A federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program grant will pay about $5.36 million of the cost, and the district will pay the rest.
Lukidis said it would have financially irresponsible for the district to have accepted the $8.4 million bid because if would have more than doubled the amount that the district is contributing to the project.
Despite the delay in the project, no changes are expected in the planned alignment of the trail’s route when the project is put out for bid later this year, Lukidis said.
Some residents in Old Edgebrook have asked that the trail be moved from the west side of Central Avenue to the east side so that trail users would not have to cross Prescott Avenue and Louise Avenue, the only two streets leading into the 55-home subdivision, which is located just to the west of Central. The district recently adjusted the design of the trail on Central so that as it approaches Prescott and Louise there would be space for vehicles to stack while trail users are crossing those streets.
The 18-mile North Branch trail runs from Devon and Caldwell avenues through several suburbs to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. The southern extension will run from Devon and Caldwell to the Hernandez Picnic Grove in LaBagh Woods near Foster and Kostner avenues.
The trail’s construction will include the installation of an on-demand traffic signal to allow trail users to cross Central at the entrance of the Edgebrook Clubhouse, 6100 N. Central Ave. and the construction of a bridge over railroad tracks near Indian Road and Ardmore Avenue in Indian Road Woods.