Filling the gaps: Connections planned for bike paths in Vernon Hills

Key gaps in Vernon Hills' bike path system are expected to be filled this construction season.

On the west side of the village, a path along Butterfield Road will link the expansive Gregg's Landing and New Century Town neighborhoods. Another is planned along Milwaukee Avenue fronting Hawthorn Mall on the east side - the last unpaved segment between Libertyville and Lincolnshire.

The Butterfield Road project is among several dozen nonmotorized projects on Lake County's 2020-25 transportation improvement program.

The Lake County Division of Transportation, which has about 62 miles of bike paths or bike lanes in its system, works with communities and other entities to make connections and fill gaps in the network.

A pending agreement calls for the county to build a 3,100-foot path on the east side of Butterfield Road, from the Canadian National rail crossing north to Gregg's Parkway.

Vernon Hills initially authorized a $150,000 contribution toward the project, but a letter of intent to revise that arrangement was approved this week by the village board. Now instead of contributing $150,000 to the county, the village will be responsible for installing landscaping, which will involve several trees, once the path is built.

"The county would prefer not having to deal with the landscaping design, meeting with homeowners and working through all of those details," said David Brown, village engineer/public works director.

When complete, Vernon Hills will own and maintain the path. Construction is expected this summer, with landscaping installed in the fall or next spring.

Construction also is pending on a sidewalk on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue from the Pulte development on the former Cuneo property to Ring Drive, an entrance and frontage to Hawthorn Mall.

The 860-foot sidewalk is part of the planned $252 million mall makeover, which is underway. The village is negotiating with mall owner Centennial Real Estate to extend the sidewalk an additional 350 feet to Uncle Julio's restaurant, Brown said.

A final element will be the installation of a pedestrian gate and smooth transition across the EJ & E rail crossing between the Gregg's Landing commercial area and Pulte development. That is under court order to be completed by August, according to Brown.

"Once that's complete and we have a crossing at the EJ & E railroad, you will be able to ride your bike (along Milwaukee Avenue) all the way from Libertyville to Lincolnshire," Brown said. "So, we are very close."

Signs of what's to come for bicycling paths Update will be streamed live tonight

Butterfield Road link in Vernon Hills viewed as key to bigger path system

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