Forest Preserve District of Cook County Des Plaines River Trail, South Extension Planning Study

Jul 25, 2018

Forest Preserve District of Cook County Des Plaines River Trail, South Extension Planning Study

The Des Plaines River Trail is a major, regional trail running for approximately 55 miles, north-south in Lake and Cook counties. The trail’s northern terminus is near the Illinois-Wisconsin border. Itts current southern terminus is in the Jerome Huppert Woods Forest Preserve, just north of North Avenue, near the Village of Melrose Park.  Further south, the trail has not, for the most part, been constructed.  The gap, or missing segment, between North and Ogden Avenues is approximately 6.5 miles in length.  If constructed, however, the trail would connect to two other major regional trails: the Illinois Prairie Path (in the Village of Maywood) and the Salt Creek Greenway Trail (in the Village of Brookfield).  Further south, in the Village of Lyons, the Des Plaines River Trail runs for approximately 1.3 miles from the Cermak Family Aquatic Center on Ogden Avenue, south to the Chicago Portage National Historic Site. This planning study will focus in on the southern-most segment of the gap: the stretch between 26th Street and Ogden Avenue.  The goal of the project is to identify the most feasible alignment or route in this area for the Des Plaines River Trail.


The project consists of a planning study to determine potential alternative alignments for the Des Plaines River Trail and key community connector routes between W. 26th Street and Ogden Avenue (U.S. 34) in the villages of Brookfield, Riverside, North Riverside, and Lyons. The study area was chosen on account of the strong support from those municipalities, as well as the Brookfield Zoo, the Frederick Law Olmsted Society of Riverside, and the West Central Municipal Conference. The Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC) believes that conducting a successful feasibility study for this area will serve as a springboard for successful planning of segments further north, which, together, will advance the long-term goal of completing the Des Plaines River Trail from North Avenue to Ogden Avenue.


The study will identify potential routes for this segment of the trail, and evaluate their feasibility, advantages, and attractiveness to stakeholders, using planning-level evaluation criteria and information, and community input. The study will identify and describe the advantages, as well as major challenges and barriers, associated with various alignments, and propose planning-level solutions and general cost estimates (low, medium, high) for addressing key issues and barriers.


The study will result in the recommendation of a preferred alignment that is feasible, cost-effective, and consistent with stakeholder and community input and preferences. It will include a strategy for implementation and discussion of potential funding sources.  Primary considerations for identifying potential alignments, evaluating feasibility, and recommending a preferred route, include such matters as:

  • Existing bicycle and pedestrian system (constructed and planned)Programmed or near-term improvements
  • Feasibility and desirability of both off-street and on-street options
  • Major barriers such as rail lines, waterways, and highways
  • Roadway and intersection characteristics, jurisdiction, and classification
  • Potential environmental issues (planning-level analysis)
  • Adjacent land uses and destinations that may affect route choice


Public Engagement

A primary goal of all CMAP projects is to elevate stakeholder and community engagement in planning – particularly focusing on engaging key stakeholders and populations that can be underrepresented in typical planning processes. Stakeholder engagement, public outreach, and agency coordination will comprise an essential aspect of the Des Plaines River Trail, South Extension Planning Study.

Outreach and engagement for the project will focus on advancing cooperation, partnership, and rapport between the FPDCC and nearby communities and laying the foundation for future association and collaboration on the development of the Des Plaines River Trail and other projects.  As part of the engagement process, CMAP will gather feedback from relevant stakeholders on important destinations, current conditions, popular routes, problem areas, and future developments and plans. This will assist the FPDCC and other agencies in developing this, as well as future segments, of the trail. Ultimately, the community engagement that is done for this study will increase dialogue and understanding between the FPDCC and the local agencies and residents.

MetroQuest Online Community Survey

A survey was open to the public between May 8 and July 31, 2019 and received over 1,100 responses. The results were used for the Planning Study.



Project Documents

Interim and final deliverables will be posted to this section of the webpage as they become available.

Steering Committee Meeting #1 - Presentation Slides
Steering Committee Meeting #2 - Presentation Slides

Existing Conditions Report (PDF)


Key Recommendations Memorandum (PDF)

Draft Final Study Report (PDF)
[Note: A higher resolution MS Word (locked to editing) is available upon request]


John O’Neal, CMAP, Project Manager, Transportation Planner ( or 312-386-88822)

Kindy Kruller, FPDCC, Senior Planner ( or 708-771-1009)

To Top