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posted: 8/6/2012 6:01 PM

Grass Lake Road tunnel could be key link in regional trail system

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Behind-the-scenes work is expected to continue on a plan to add a key link in the area's trail system in Lindenhurst.

The Lake County Forest Preserve District's land preservation and acquisition committee on Monday recommended that negotiations proceed with the Lindenhurst Park District and the Lake County Division of Transportation as part of a cooperative effort. The district's finance committee on Aug. 30 also will consider the matter.

The three entities, along with the village of Lindenhurst and Lake Villa Township, are working to build a pedestrian tunnel beneath Grass Lake Road to connect the McDonald Woods Forest Preserve and the planned Oak Ridge Park near Route 45. The connection also would link Heritage Trails Park and Millburn West School.

Tom Lippert, executive director of the park district, said the underpass is part of a comprehensive trail system that has been in the works for years.

"The most important thing is there's no safe way in that area for folks to cross," Grass Lake Road, Lippert said.

The district has applied for a federal grant for the estimated $3 million project, which if approved would fund 80 percent of the cost. Work at this point is in the final engineering stage, with the village and park district splitting those costs.

Once complete, the project would be reviewed by federal authorities for possible funding.

Part of the Lake County Division of Transportation process requires the park district and forest preserve district to dedicate right of way along Grass Lake Road, as well as a temporary construction easement.

"We're hoping at the tail end of this year, we'll have everything ready to go and apply," Lippert said. "We're moving as quickly and diligently as possible."

The forest preserve district has approved up to $200,000 toward construction of the underpass. The district also would own and maintain the trail, a retaining and support wall, and drainage improvements on its property.

"It's kind of a key underpass," Lippert said. "Everybody's working on this to make it happen."

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