Long-sought trail link will connect Arlington Heights to Lake County Forest Preserve

A long-sought pedestrian connection from Arlington Heights to the Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve in Lake County is planned for construction starting next spring, officials said.

Forest preserve users for years have been asking for a path that links the north side of Lake-Cook Road near Wilke Road with the trail system. In the absence of one, they've created an unofficial route or "goat trail" to get them there.

The village got federal funding to build a path and nearby crosswalks on the main roads, but the project stalled when bids were well above estimates.

Now the village has received outside funding again - a Cook County grant for up to $75,000 - which should cover some of the current estimated $200,000 cost, according to Mike Pagones, the village engineer.

The project includes an 8-foot-wide gravel path that will extend from Lake-Cook to an existing trail; painted crosswalks both across Wilke Road and across Lake-Cook just east of the intersection; related push button signals and accessible ramps; and the associated modification of the traffic signal.

Pagones said engineering designs for the improvements have been sent to the Lake County Forest Preserve District and Cook County for review, with plans to go out to bid next spring and break ground by April.

The latest upgrades come as other projects within the forest preserve continue. A separate intergovernmental collaboration involving the forest preserve district, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the village of Buffalo Grove will result in 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.

Arlington Heights officials hosted a meeting nearly a year ago attended by representatives of the Lake County Forest Preserve District, Cook County Department of Transportation and Arlington Heights Park District, in which the village and Cook County committed to funding the trail connection and pedestrian crosswalks.

A preliminary construction timeline calls for the upgrades to be complete by August 2020.

Buffalo Creek access plan revived

  Pedestrian crosswalks at Lake-Cook Road and Wilke Road in Arlington Heights are planned, as well as a gravel path in the Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve to the north that will connect with the preserve's existing trail system. Bob Susnjara/, 2018
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