Construction is poised to begin on a long-sought bridge and trail in Mallard Lake Forest Preserve near Hanover Park that will cross County Farm Road and connect to the neighboring Hawk Hollow Forest Preserve.
DuPage County Forest Preserve District officials are planning to break ground Tuesday on the roughly $3.5 million project, which is being funded with county, state and federal money.
Kevin Horsfall, the district's manager of planning, said officials have been working to get the bridge built since at least the early 2000s.
The structure, which will be between Schick and Stearns roads, is considered the best option to get pedestrians safely across four lanes of traffic on County Farm.
"It's been a long process," Horsfall said Thursday. "It's been discussed for a long time. To finally see it come to fruition is a great thing."
Officials say the bridge and a new 1-mile trail at Mallard Lake will provide a missing link in the greater 35-mile North Central DuPage Regional Trail, which eventually will connect Cook County to the West Branch DuPage River Trail.
Hawk Hollow and Mallard Lake preserves each have about two miles of existing trails. Once the new limestone path at Mallard Lake is complete, the district will have a total of five miles of connected trails in that area.
Horsfall said the price tag is part of the reason the project took more than 15 years to materialize.
Just building the bridge across County Farm will cost up to $1.2 million. Then there's the cost of the new trail and a 90-foot bridge that will span a tributary of the West Branch of the DuPage River.
The financial commitment would have made it difficult for the forest preserve to do the project on its own. So other governmental entities agreed to help.
The forest preserve received $500,000 from DuPage County and $500,000 through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. In addition, roughly $2.2 million in federal transportation funding has been committed to the project. The forest preserve also is contributing money for the project.
"That's what's making this happen," Horsfall said. "It's all these people coming together to support and fund this critical link in the North Central DuPage Regional Trail."
Construction is scheduled to start this summer and most of the work is expected to be completed by winter.
The forest preserve will need to temporarily close sections of existing trails at both Mallard Lake and Hawk Hollow during construction.