Bike trail extension to be built in two phases


Construction of a 3.1-mile southern extension of the North Branch bike and pedestrian trail will be built in two phases starting in 2016, according to the Cook County Forest Preserve District.

Plans had called for construction to begin this year and to be completed in 2016, but the project was delayed after bids for the estimated $6.7 million project were too high. While the district hopes the second phase will start no later than 2017, that decision has not been made, district spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said.

The first phase of the project, which will cost $5.3 million, will start in Edgebrook and end in Forest Glen, covering about two-thirds of the total length of the trail extension. Several of the largest infrastructure expenses, including the installation of a traffic signal on Central Avenue in Old Edgebrook and a bridge in Indian Woods, are included in the first phase, Lukidis said.

The second phase will cover the portion of the trail which will run from Forest Glen to the Hernandez Picnic Grove in LaBagh Woods near Foster and Kostner avenues.

It is not known if building the extension in two phases will save money, but the district wanted "to take advantage of the funds we do have," Lukidis said. About 80 percent of the project will be paid by a grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, and the district’s grant request for the first phase has been approved, she said.

The design of the extension has remained unchanged from the plans announced last summer, Lukidis said.

Some residents of 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 west of Central.

The 18-mile North Branch trail runs from Devon and Caldwell avenues to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. The southern extension will run from Devon and Caldwell.