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Article posted: 11/16/2013 8:00 AM

Trail connection would improve regional access for northwest Libertyville area

This bike trail underpass at Milwaukee Avenue near Casey Road will connect with the Des Plaines River Trail as an expansion of the regional trail system.

This bike trail underpass at Milwaukee Avenue near Casey Road will connect with the Des Plaines River Trail as an expansion of the regional trail system.

 

Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

Libertyville Township will explore the possibility of connecting this village-owned path in the Timber Creek subdivision to its Casey Trail to the north.

Libertyville Township will explore the possibility of connecting this village-owned path in the Timber Creek subdivision to its Casey Trail to the north.

 
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A trail linking neighborhoods in northwest Libertyville with a regional system is a possibility being considered by Libertyville Township.

"This would be the first time in a very long time the township would construct a trail," Supervisor Kathleen O'Connor said. "It's all very, very tentative. We're just starting a conversation. We kind of want to get the public's input from the beginning."

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Township trustees this past week agreed to hire Gewalt Hamilton Associates, an engineering firm based in Vernon Hills, at a cost not to exceed $4,692 to prepare exhibits regarding potential links.

"We'd like to hold an open house, hopefully in January," O'Connor said.

She said the township has been in contact with the village of Libertyville and the Lake County Forest Preserve District among others about the possibilities.

The general idea at this point would be to connect a village trail that runs for a short distance in the Timber Creek subdivision near Route 137 and Butterfield Road to the township's Casey Trail to the north. That would provide a path from the northwest Libertyville area to the Independence Grove Forest Preserve.

"Really, everyone who lives along Butterfield Road would have a way to access this regional trail system," O'Connor said.

The range of the Casey Trail, which runs east and west, is about to be greatly extended as part of the ongoing Route 21 (Milwaukee Avenue) and Route 137 road widening and improvement.

Part of that project involves the extension of the Casey Trail to the east, through a tunnel beneath Milwaukee Avenue to connect to the Des Plaines River Trail, which traverses the length of Lake County from north to south.

"They're getting close," said Mike Tully, director of operations and public safety for the Lake County Forest Preserve District. "We're hoping to have it open by Thanksgiving Day."

The tunnel has been complete and the connecting legs are in place but either end has been blocked until all the work is approved and accepted. A walk-through is scheduled for this coming week, Tully said.

A trail spur also has been built from the Des Plaines River Trail to connect to a sidewalk to be completed on the north side of Route 137 east of Route 21. And with other sidewalks in place elsewhere or being built as part of the road project, more residents will be able to reach these paths.

"All of these connections are fantastic," Tully said.

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