With years of planning, saving and designing in the rearview mirror, Libertyville Township officials and residents are anxiously awaiting completion of a key trail connection.
Some time in November, it is expected the roughly three-quarter mile extension of a village bike path will be connected with the township's Casey Trail and become a gateway to various destinations for hikers and bikers.
"We put aside money for a couple of years and now here we are," township Supervisor Kathleen O'Connor said of the $835,000 project.
"People asked for this 20 years ago," she added.
Work on the Route 137 Bull Creek Trail Connector project involves a partnership with the village of Libertyville and ComEd. The existing trail is village-owned and begins on Castleton Road in the Timber Creek subdivision on the northwest side of town. That will be rebuilt and redirected from where it had jogged, to the west away from the rear of homes.
From that point, a path has been cleared through the woods on township property heading north. The route continues through a wetland area and over Bull Creek to join with an informal trail created by the township along a hay field to serve the Bull Creek subdivision. What had been a mowed area will be converted to a standard crushed limestone trail as part of the project.
The trail will continue north through ComEd property to the township's existing Casey Trail, which fronts the Liberty Prairie Nature Preserve. At that point, users will be able to travel east to the Des Plaines River Trail, which runs the length of Lake County, or north and west through the Oak Openings Nature Preserve to Grayslake and other areas.
Construction began about a month ago. Traversing Bull Creek to link township parcels involves the construction of a 400-foot long boardwalk, considered the highlight of the project. That portion is nearing completion.
"The connections here are invaluable," said Damon Cederberg, the township's open space field coordinator. "The biggest part is getting across Bull Creek with this boardwalk."
Lumber treated to withstand marine conditions is being used for the decking. It is 6 to 8 feet above the surface and is supported by pilings driven as deep as 12 feet. Cederberg estimated the entire project is about half complete.
"We're getting to the point things are moving very quickly," he said.
O'Connor said the excitement is palpable for the extension, which will provide township residents with access to a much broader trail system and protected properties.
"Now at last, township residents will have an easy access to their property and a nice experience," she said.
Maps and a layout are on the open space section of the township website www.libertyvilletownship.us/.