Long-delayed Hoffman Estates bike path expected this year
Three local governments are determined this year to finally build a long-delayed east-west bike trail link along Shoe Factory Road from Route 59 west to the Canadian National railroad tracks in Hoffman Estates.
But plans to build a north-south connection under the I-90 tollway bridge to the same endpoint -- and develop a bike route through the Prairie Stone Business Park on the north side -- remain stalled by CN's reluctance to allow use of the needed right of way along its tracks.
The village of Hoffman Estates, Hoffman Estates Park District and Cook County Forest Preserve District are signing an intergovernmental agreement this month to get the 0.7-milelong Shoe Factory Road connection built during the 2020 construction season.
That leg, which would pave an existing dirt trail, is seen as an important component in keeping bicyclists and pedestrians safely off a particularly busy stretch of Shoe Factory Road, Hoffman Estates Transportation & Engineering Director Mike Hankey said.
Cyclists coming from the east could continue uninterrupted another eight or nine miles west to Elgin, he added.
CN officials have been citing safety concerns for not allowing use of the right of way along their tracks, though planners of the proposed north-south bike trail connection expect some distance and a physical barrier between the path and railroad, Hankey said.
The reason for finally putting those negotiations on the back burner was the time pressure to get the Shoe Factory Road component done before federal funding -- first offered in 2013 through an Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant -- potentially expires, he said.
The federal government is funding about 70% of the total $470,000 project, with the three local governments dividing the remaining cost of phase I and phase II engineering, Hankey said.
The forest preserve is handling half that share -- $72,213 -- while the village and park district are paying 25% each, about $36,106.
It remains a priority to get bicyclists and pedestrians safely across the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, and phase I engineering is planned for this year to design a trail along Beverly Road to the west, Hankey said. If the process were to continue without interruption, such a trail might be built as early as 2022.
Even if it is, Hankey said there would still be a benefit of a connection along the CN tracks if permission to use the right of way were given. But under those circumstances, the decision to proceed wouldn't be his or even the village's alone, he said.