Riverview Bridge to soar over Chicago River

By Contributing Writer

Plans for an Avondale bike trail that will stretch across the Chicago River are beginning to move forward.

Originally presented in 2012 by the Chicago Department of Transportation, the plans proposed connecting Clark Park, 3400 N. Rockwell St., and California Park, 3843 N. California Ave.

The Riverview Bridge, called the Addison Underbridge Connector in the proposal, will create a multiuse trail for cyclists and pedestrians that will begin on the Chicago River’s east embankment at Clark Park. The trail will cross over to the river’s other side at the Addison Street Bridge.

The trail will stretch approximately one mile  and be suspended as high as 16 feet above the river in some locations, according to documents from the City of Chicago’s website. 

Construction on the trail is anticipated to begin in winter of 2016, said Susan Hofer, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

The project fulfills residents’ needs to leave the urban environment and reconnect with nature, which promotes health, recreation and community involvement, said Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River, a volunteer organization dedicated to revitalizing the Chicago River.

Morgan Bryan, a local resident, said he is excited about the trail’s development.

“I have a family—two young daughters and a wife—and we have to throw our bikes on a rack and go up north somewhere to be able to ride safely away from traffic,” he said. “If we could have something on the river that’s completely away from cars, I would be very happy.”

Bryan also noted he could commute to work on the trail in addition to using it for recreation.

While developments along the natural landscape occasionally incite criticism, the river bank the Riverview Bridge would be constructed on is largely uninhabitable, Frisbie said.

“This project actually opens up the river and improves it rather than fencing it off or making it less accessible,” she said.

Peter Schlossman, president of the Horner Park Advisory Council, said some residents were concerned about the path’s design. Some parents are worried that if the curves are too steep or the corners are too sharp, children playing along the trail may be exposed to dangerous bicycle traffic. However, Schlossman said this concern is minor.

Horner Park, a neighborhood north of the Riverview Bridge, will also begin construction on a new bike path in 2017 that will run underneath the Irving Park Bridge to coincide with renovations that mark its 100th anniversary, Schlossman said. There are currently plans to connect the two trails to create a continuous path.

The Riverview Bridge is financed by federal, state and local funds, according to Hofer. She added that a total price cannot be tallied until a contract has been awarded for construction. However, a Chicago Department of Transportation presentation estimated the cost at $9.5 million.

Frisbie added that many would like to eventually see a single, continuous trail running along the entire length of the Chicago River system.

“There’s a whole system of trails throughout the city, but you have to ride on streets alongside cars to get to them, and it’s very dangerous,” Bryan said. “I can’t image this trail being a negative. To this day, I can’t believe we don’t have something along the river.”

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