Arlington Heights revives plan for safe crossing across Lake-Cook Road to Buffalo Creek preserve

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct a quote from Michael Pagones.

Arlington Heights is seeking support from other public agencies for a pedestrian connection across Lake-Cook Road to the Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve.

Village officials have reached out to the Lake County Forest Preserve District, Arlington Heights Park District and the Cook County Department of Transportation for input on providing pedestrian improvements into the preserve from the south at Wilke Road. Village officials have invited the parties to a meeting Nov. 15 to discuss aspects of a potential project.

Path users for years have crossed at Wilke Road and created an unofficial route or "goat trail" on the north side of Lake-Cook leading to the preserve's main trail.

The village and the forest preserve district for years have received requests for a safe connection. With ongoing work at the preserve, those have increased in frequency, according to Michael Pagones, village engineer.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the village of Buffalo Grove are working to reduce flooding and provide additional public access. Work includes 1.2 miles of new trail to create loops east of Schaeffer Road, seven new boardwalks, two scenic overlooks and a parking lot expansion. The Lake County Division of Transportation also built a new section of trail and is restoring native vegetation in a 65-acre western section of the preserve.

"With all the activity, we've been getting calls: 'Will this include a connection to the bike paths in the forest preserve?'" Pagones said.

There is a traffic signal at Wilke and Lake-Cook but no crosswalk. The village in 2008 received federal funding for new sidewalk approaches, signal modifications such as push buttons and timers, pavement markings and a 550-foot path connecting to the trail system. But the bids were well above estimates and the project was withdrawn, according to Pagones.

The forest board's planning committee is scheduled to consider the matter at 1 p.m. Monday at its office, 1899 W. Winchester Road in Libertyville. Discussion is expected to include whether to support the project and if so in what capacity, whether to attend the meeting in Arlington Heights, and whether to start negotiations on an intergovernmental agreement.

This is considered a small project, Pagones said but it is early in the process. Future discussion will include the scope of the project, cost and involvement of the various agencies, he added.

"Hopefully, it's a small enough amount that even if it's currently not (available) in the budget we can find some money for it," he said. "There's no guarantee."

  Continuing work at the Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve has led to increased requests for a safe crossing at Lake-Cook Road and Wilke Road to gain access to the trail system. Buffalo Creek is between Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove and Long Grove. Bob Susnjara/
  Work continues at the Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve between Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove and Long Grove. Requests for a safe crossing at Lake-Cook Road and Wilke Road to gain access to the trails have increased. Bob Susnjara/
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