North Branch Trail expansion flows into city limits


ZOE HAWORTH/chronicle

North Branch Trail expansion flows into city limits


The North Branch Trail,which contains about  18 miles of paved trail, will soon be extended by 2 miles, according to Lambrini Lukidis, director of Communications for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

The trail currently begins in Edgebrook and extends to the Botanic Gardens in Glencoe, Lukidis said. 

Phase one of construction of the new addition is set to begin Nov. 30.  It will  extend south from Devon and Caldwell avenues to Forest Glen Woods, according to  Lukidis. 

“It’s linking more Chicagoans to the North Branch bike trail system and it’s providing additional access to people and giving them more options for recreation,” Lukidis said.

“It’s nice to de-stress from daily life and take a [bike] ride completely immersed in nature, and most people don’t think about that when they think of Chicago, but there are quite a few beautiful natural areas that can be enjoyed,” Lukidis said.

Jac Charlier, vice president of the Edgebrook Community Association, said he supports the new trail extension but thinks the Forest Preserve District did not adequately consider all of the ongoing community’s feedback.

Charlier said residents of Edgebrook know the neighborhood and that their suggestions should be valued.

According to Charlier, the plan will create a bike crossing at Central Avenue, where there are currently no stoplights or signs for about a mile. 

Charlier added that the Forest Preserve District will have to add traffic lights at the crossing, which could affect traffic flow. He said this could have been avoided if the district had considered feedback from people who know the community best and requested the crossing to be east of Central Avenue.

“The Forest Preserve is difficult to work with because [officials] were generally [unresponsive] to concerns about where the crossing should occur,” Charlier said. “The ECA [believes] the Forest Preserve did not follow a democratic process regarding the concerns raised by the local community about where the crossing should be.”

Lukidis said the Forest Preserve held several community meetings throughout the planning process. 

Lukidis said phase one of the  expansion will cost more than $5 million. Ultimately, the extension will extend an other mile to Foster and Kostner Avenues near Gompers Park.

She said  80 percent of the funding to extend the trail will come from federal resources and 20 percent of the cost will be paid for  by the Forest Preserve District.

The Forest Preserve owns more than 300 miles of trail in Cook County, but until this extension, only a few of those miles were within city limits, said Lukidis.

“It’s a good thing because it gives people the opportunity to enjoy nature, be healthy and get that feeling that sometimes cities don’t offer,” said Samantha Strandberg, a freshman fashion studies major.

Charlier said he is excited to bike on the trail, and looks forward to the new expansion.

“We are excited to be part of something that connects and builds community with different neighborhoods,” Charlier said.