State grants will help fund biking, walking projects throughout the suburbs

  • DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and Sheriff James Mendrick lead cycling supporters of the East Branch DuPage River Trail on the Illinois Prairie Path June 22.

    DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and Sheriff James Mendrick lead cycling supporters of the East Branch DuPage River Trail on the Illinois Prairie Path June 22. Courtesy of Ginger Wheeler

 
By Ralph Banasiak
Along For the Ride
Updated 7/9/2021 8:57 AM

It's a bright future for Illinois biking!

Illinois Department of Transportation recently awarded 99 grants for biking and walking projects, with 45 in the Chicago area. Totaling $105.9 million, ranging from $32,000 to $2 million through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, this is the largest total ever.

 

Since 2019, the Rebuild Illinois long-term capital program has required funding for these projects. Projects of all sizes will benefit bikers and pedestrians in various communities. At least 25% of ITEP funds must be directed to high-need communities, determined by size, median income, poverty level and property tax base.

Cook County accounted for 23 projects; DuPage, seven; Lake, five; and three each in Kane and McHenry. IDOT's ITEP webpage reveals this project diversity. Here's just a sample:

Route 83 Pedestrian and Bicycle Overpass

The city of Elmhurst was awarded $198,000 for Phase II Engineering of its $3.37 million pedestrian and bicycle overpass and trail project. Spanning Route 83 (Kingery Highway), the "Cricket Creek Connection at Route 83" will provide the only safe Route 83 pedestrian/bicycle crossing within four miles.

Benefiting residents of Elmhurst, Villa Park and Addison, the 0.6-mile project will connect the 10-foot wide limestone trail in the Cricket Creek Forest Preserve on the west to the intersection of Fay and West avenues on the east.

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The 300-plus foot span will enable cyclists and pedestrians east of Route 83 to access the 30.6-mile Salt Creek Greenway Trail, ranging from Busse Woods near Elk Grove Village to the I & M Canal National Heritage Corridor.

Estimated project completion is 2025.

Rolling Meadows -- Hicks Road Bike Path

New bike path construction can also solve Hicks Road parkway flooding in Rolling Meadows.
New bike path construction can also solve Hicks Road parkway flooding in Rolling Meadows. - Courtesy of Christopher B. Burke, Engineering LTD

The city of Rolling Meadows was awarded a $963,360 grant for a roughly 2,500-foot bike path on the west side of Hicks Road and north side of Euclid Avenue. A pedestrian crosswalk and signaling at the Hicks/Euclid intersection are included, per Robert Horne, director of Public Works.

The Hicks path will replace a five-foot sidewalk about 100 feet north of Kirchoff Road, which is chronically plagued by drainage/flooding issues. It will be graded closer to roadway height with retaining walls installed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Based on IDOT negotiations, path width will measure eight or 10 feet. It will continue north to Euclid, then west 1,000 feet to Countryside Park.

North Chicago Patriot Path

Lake County's Division of Transportation received a $2 million grant for the Patriot Path project's stage four. Project manager Chuck Gleason notes the full project, www.lakecountyil.gov/3460/Illinois-Route-137, is "approximately 5.5 miles long with limits from the Des Plaines River Trail to the McClory Bike Path."

Stage four stretches 1.5 miles from Route 41 east along the north side of Buckley Road (Route 137), terminating near North Chicago's Great Lakes Navy Operational Support Center. Ranging from 8-10 feet wide, the path will remain five feet away from the Route 137 roadway.

Gleason expects planning phase completion by the end of 2021, with design engineering finished within two years. Estimated costs for stage four are $6.9 million (construction) and $2 million (land acquisition). Lake County is providing the local match.

"Stage four is currently programmed for the year 2025 (going out for bid), depending on available funding," Gleason said. "It is estimated to take a full construction season for completion."

Marengo School Connections

Aerial photo of the bike path project on Prospect and Telegraph streets in Marengo.
Aerial photo of the bike path project on Prospect and Telegraph streets in Marengo. - Courtesy of McHenry County Geographic Information System

Safe connectivity between a residential area north of Route 176 (Telegraph Street) and several Marengo schools is driving the Prospect Street Bike Path and Sidewalk Project, recently granted $663,503.

Schools along Prospect Street are Grant Intermediate School and Marengo Community Middle School, with Marengo Community High School just east of Prospect.

About 600 feet of sidewalk is planned for the north side of Telegraph with a crosswalk installed at the Prospect Street intersection. On Prospect itself, a 2,100-foot multiuse path will be constructed on the east, connecting to the Huntley-Union-Marengo Trail, with potentially a sidewalk on the west.

The path will also connect to an existing trail leading to Marengo Community middle and high schools.

Project manager Dan Schug explains this effort is "part of a larger Prospect Street reconstruction project addressing roadway capacity, drainage and safety."

Construction is scheduled for 2024.

Sugar Grove Sidewalks and Bridge

Village of Sugar Grove scored nearly $1 million in ITEP grants -- $204,710 for a safe routes to school project and $779,780 for the Blackberry Creek Bridge project.

Anthony Speciale, director of Public Works, reports about 1,810 feet of new five-foot sidewalk will be installed along Grove, West and Calkins streets, plus crosswalks at three key intersections.

Students at Kaneland John Shields Elementary School and other village residents will gain a safe route to walk/bike to school and to Sugar Grove's Volunteer Park.

Design phase is expected to start later this year, with construction likely starting in 2023. The village expects to spend $40,000 for the project's local share.

The Blackberry Creek Bridge project will provide bike/pedestrian access to the village's retail area, golf course, parks and the Virgil Gilman Trail for residents of nearly 4,000 homes south of the trail. Currently, bikers and walkers must use Bliss Road to access this trail in the Forest Preserve District of Kane County.

A paved 10-foot wide path with trail signage will snake north approximately 1,120 feet from Bellevue Lane across the creek to the Gilman Trail. The multiuse bridge will be a wood deck with metal railings and floor beams. The village had already commissioned a preliminary design report determining viability of a creek crossing.

Four entities will split the local match requirement, estimated at $50,000 each: Village of Sugar Grove, Sugar Grove Park District, Forest Preserve District of Kane County and Sugar Grove Township.

"The village will begin design engineering upon finalizing the grant paperwork," Speciale said. "Construction most likely will begin in 2023. The construction of the pedestrian bridge could take up to 18 months."

Cycling Shorts

• State Rep. Tom Morrison (54th) scheduled a bike safety rodeo at Palatine's Fremd High School Saturday, June 5, to kick off his "Kids Week" of virtual and in-person activities. Unfortunately, hot, muggy weather depressed turnout, so Morrison, given lemons, made lemonade.

Experts recruited for this event lent their expertise in two videos: Patrick Smith, Bike Palatine Club volunteer and Ride Illinois treasurer, narrated the bike safety course, youtu.be/9hhlLw2d6m8, and Palatine Police Officer Martin VanderHoek discussed bike theft prevention, youtu.be/yLWLlxPAUgY.

• About 20 Friends of the East Branch of the DuPage River Trail and other cycling enthusiasts biked along with DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin on his annual "Bike to Work Day" June 22.

Longtime trail advocate Ginger Wheeler joined the 12-mile Illinois Prairie Path ride from Elmhurst to DuPage County offices in Wheaton.

Nicknamed by some "The Trail Between," Wheeler noted that the EBDRT will extend "between a lot of places -- Lombard and Glen Ellyn, Great Western Trail and Morton Arboretum, forest preserves and parks, too. It's a connector trail sorely needed in our area for not only recreation, but also transportation."

Check EastBranchTrail.org.

Spoke'N Word

Speaking of infrastructure, now's your chance to speak up for a bike facility as part of the proposed O'Hare western access. Federal Aviation Administration is seeking public comments through July 9 on Chicago's multibillion dollar project. If airport travelers and employees in Boston, Portland, San Diego and Washington, D.C., can claim bike facilities, why not us?

• Join the ride. Contact Ralph Banasiak at alongfortheridemail@gmail.com.

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