Chicago Sun-Times

Waiting on the Bloomingdale Trail

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Fans of the Bloomingdale Trail -- this is taking longer than you hoped.
More than a year after the city of Chicago selected ARUP North America to begin preliminary design and engineering work on the proposed 2.7 mile linear park on the Northwest Side, the contract still hasn't been awarded.
Chicago transportation department spokesman Brian Steele said that given the project's scope and complexity, the amount of time it has taken to agree on what the contract entails "is not out of the ordinary." The city had originally predicted the $3.1 million contract would go to ARUP at the end of last year.
Ben Helphand, president of the board of Friends of Bloomingdale Trail, an advocacy group for the project, isn't discouraged and believes there has been "good, steady progress."
"I wish that particular contract was moving forward, but it's a very big project, with a lot of moving parts," Helphand said.
The trail for bicyclists and pedestrians would run on an unused railroad bed along Bloomingdale Avenue from Ashland to Ridgeway. The design phase has to look at issues like the condition of 37 viaducts that hold up the trail.
Helphand said the group is "extremely happy" that plans are moving forward on one of the parks that will be an access point to the trail. The Albany-Whipple Park had already been set up as a temporary park by the Trust for Public Land. The Trust, the Friends of Bloomingdale Trail and the Chicago Park District are working on plans to develop a children's playground on the site. It's expected to open this fall, Helphand said.
Other parks that will provide access to the elevated trail are also in the works, Helphand said. The city has been discussing the trail for 11 years.

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Although we need many more dedicated bike trails in the city I don't think the Bloomingdale Trail is going to make it to reality. Those tracks actually aren't unused. They are used daily to temporarily park freight and tanker cars and chicago needs all the capacity it can get in that regard. The yard at kinzie and western and along the kennedy are maxed out and they don't want that equipment too far out of the city. I maybe wrong but it doesn't look good for the trail unless someone can come up with a good trade for the RR.

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