Two major trails – the Centennial Trail and the John Husar I&M Canal Trail – are a key amenity within the I&M Canal National Heritage Area, which stretches for nearly 100 miles from Chicago to Peru, Illinois. The extension of these trails will bridge a critical gap in the regional trail system, connect communities to key destinations, and help to realize a larger vision aimed at redeveloping and revitalizing underutilized lands along the waterways.
This project will study the feasibility of extending the Centennial Trail and the I&M Canal Trail from its current terminus in Willow Springs, north through the villages of Justice, Bedford Park, and Summit, to connect to the Chicago Portage National Historic Site (in the Village of Lyons). The purpose of the study is to identify and evaluate potential trail alignments or routes within the canal corridor, and to choose a preferred route that can be carried forward for further development. The choice of a preferred route will be based on technical, engineering analysis, as well as stakeholder and community input and preferences. The feasibility study will include an implementation strategy with near- and mid-term actions, as well as potential funding sources for further study, engineering, and trail construction.
To identify potential alignments, evaluate feasibility, and make a recommendation for a preferred route, the study will need to consider a number of factors, including:
· Existing bicycle and pedestrian system
· Programmed or near-term improvements
· Feasibility and desirability of both off-street and on-street options along the different potential routes
· Major barriers such as waterways and rail lines
· Roadway and intersection classification and characteristics
· Environmental issues, such as wetlands, drainage, rights of way, and utilities
· Adjacent land uses and destinations that may affect route choice
In addition, input from key stakeholders and the public will be solicited and incorporated. The primary consultant for the project is Terra Engineering, Ltd., with assistance from Hey and Associates, Inc. (environmental studies) and Images, Inc. (public outreach, engagement, and communications). The study process and scope of work, developed by CMAP in collaboration with the Village of Justice and partner communities (Willow Springs, Bedford Park, and Summit) and the consultant team, involves several phases over the next 12 months. The first phase will involve a thorough analysis of the existing conditions within the study corridor relying on information gathered from the project steering committee, interviews with key stakeholders, field visits and site investigations, public meetings, review of previous plans and studies, and collection and analysis of maps and data.
Subsequent phases will focus on identifying all potential route options, which could potentially achieve the desired connection; analyzing these routes for overall feasibility, connections to the larger bikeway and trail network, cost effectiveness, public and stakeholder support, and opportunities for developing underutilized lands along the canal.
The final phase will include the identification and detailed analysis of the preferred route, including engineering, preliminary cost estimates, and description of any policy, regulatory, or legal requirements. A draft report describing the feasibility study process and the recommendation for the preferred route will then be prepared and shared with the project steering committee and public. The final report will include next steps to advance the project toward implementation and construction.
The feasibility study process will entail robust and detailed stakeholder input to ensure that the end product is driven by the realities, needs, and vision of the communities along the corridor and other key project stakeholders, including the Cook County Forest Preserves, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Illinois Department of Transportation, Cook County Department of Transportation, National Park Service, the I&M Heritage Corridor, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Southwest and Central Councils of Mayors, Active Transportation Alliance, private railroads, ComEd, and large private land owners with property along the waterways. The project steering committee, which consists of representatives of these organizations, will provide feedback throughout the planning process. There will also be opportunities for residents, local business owners, river users, and the general public to provide input through the project website, community events, and open houses.
If you would like information on future meetings, please send your contact information to Janet Henderson, Images Inc. (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be placed on the project email list.
Interim deliverables will be posted to this section of the webpage as they become available.
David Landweer, Terra Engineering, Project Manager (email@example.com or 312-467-0123)
Matthew Zarebczan, Director of Economic Development, Village of Justice (firstname.lastname@example.org or 708-458-2130)
John O’Neal, CMAP, Transportation Planner (email@example.com or 312-386-88822)