Lake County seeking federal money for path between Des Plaines River, McClory trails
As planning advances, Lake County is pursuing federal funding for a $30 million trail along Route 137 to provide access to thousands of residents between Libertyville and North Chicago.
The 5.5-mile Patriot Path would connect the Des Plaines River Trail and Robert McClory Bike Path at Sheridan Road. It would provide additional commuting options, allow for connections to other path systems, and expand alternate modes of transportation to parks, forest preserves, schools, businesses, employment centers and transit stops along the way, officials say.
The path is among 17 capital projects on Lake County's 2021 pitch list for federal funding of infrastructure needs.
On Tuesday, the county announced that the path is one of seven projects submitted by U.S. Reps. Sean Casten, Brad Schneider and Lauren Underwood for Congress to consider for funding. The path project would receive $9.8 million of the $50 million sought.
Schneider last Friday announced he had submitted the $9.8 million request to fund Stages 1 and 4 of the Patriot Path to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as one of his five "Member Designated Projects," also known as earmarks.
The request is being considered as part of the 2021 reauthorization of the federal surface transportation bill.
Discussion of the Patriot Path began in 2015. The preferred route linking Libertyville, Green Oaks, Waukegan and North Chicago was chosen in 2018.
"We have been and still are in Phase 1, which is the planning phase," said Chuck Gleason, project manager for the Lake County Division of Transportation.
The county is waiting for the Illinois Department of Transportation to sign off before starting design engineering, known as Phase 2, hopefully by the fall, he said.
IDOT is involved because Route 137 is a state highway and the agency is the conduit for federal funding, Gleason explained.
The $30 million estimate for the project includes engineering, land purchases and construction of all four segments. Because of the cost, the project is broken into four parts.
"We didn't think we would be able to afford to build the whole thing at one time," Gleason said.
The segments on either end are in Lake County's 2020-2025 Transportation Improvement Program, with construction targeted in 2023-2025. The two segments account for about $20 million of the project cost.
"Usually if we program something, that pretty well means were going to build it," Gleason said.
According to the county, the five-lane Route 137 carries about 20,000 vehicles a day but has limited or no pedestrian accommodations.
Besides making connections, the path also would improve pedestrian safety near Naval Station Great Lakes and Lovell Federal Health Center, according to the project description.
The $50 million federal request also includes $26.2 million for a new Lake County Emergency Operations Center and $7.7 million for a storm sewer to reduce flooding near Naval Station Great Lakes.
Besides transporation-related projects, members of Congress also made submissions to the House Appropriations Committee for their respective districts under what is known as "Community Project Funding."