Fox River Trail will be continuous in Kane County after these two projects are finished

More than 40 miles of the Fox River Trail will run uninterrupted in Kane County from Algonquin to Aurora after two projects in South Elgin are finished, officials said.

In one, a tunnel will be built under the Union Pacific Railroad tracks where a trail bridge was washed out by storms years ago. The other involves village plans to acquire land downtown to improve a section of trail.

Monica Meyers, executive director of the Forest Preserve of Kane County, said the tunnel is in the area where the Fox River Trail connects with the Elgin branch of the Illinois Prairie Path.

The Illinois Department of Transportation solicited bids for the $3.4 million project expected to start soon, possibly in the next couple of weeks, she said.

Funding includes just over $1 million from the forest preserve and a federal grant through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

The tunnel is expected to open next year, she said.

"The Fox River Trail is one of the most well-used trails, probably in the state, because it goes through Kane County through Wisconsin (north) and down (south) past Montgomery," Meyers said. "It's a very popular trail, and right between Elgin and South Elgin, it's used quite a bit."

The village wants to acquire land on the east bank of the Fox River at about 102 E. State St., at the only section of Fox River Trail running through private property, said Director of Parks and Recreation Kim Wascher.

The estimated cost is $200,000 - the final purchase price has not been established - to be funded by tax-increment financing money, Wascher said. The village hopes for 50% reimbursement from a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, she said.

The public can submit comments until Aug. 9 and the grant application is due Aug. 19, she said.

Future work will include repaving, and likely landscaping, benches, and some signage about the village's history, at an additional cost, Community Development Director Nancy Hill said. Future costs will be determined if the land acquisition moves forward, she said.

"Some of the biking enthusiasts were really very excited about it," she said of an informational meeting last week.

Among those who attended was Terry Witt of Batavia, director of advocacy for Spin Doctor Cyclewerks. Tens of thousands of people use the Fox River Trail every year, he said.

"It's a great plan. It's important for the Fox River Trail and it's also important for the village of South Elgin," Witt said. "People take detours around the village of South Elgin and continue their journey ... they are missing out on a lot of people who maybe would stop and eat lunch or do something there in South Elgin."

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  The Forest Preserve of Kane County plans to contribute about $1 million for a $3.4 million tunnel under the Union Pacific Railroad railroad that will close a gap in the Fox River Trail in South Elgin. Rick West/
This rendering shows plans for improvements along the Fox River Trail in downtown South Elgin, where the village wants to buy land to improve a section of trail. Courtesy village of South Elgin
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