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Bloomingdale Trail Opening Delayed by Chiberia, New Park Added to Project

By  Emily Morris Alisa Hauser and Josh McGhee | June 20, 2014 9:04am | Updated on June 20, 2014 10:38am

 A rendering of the a bridge at Milwaukee and Bloomingdale avenues as part of the Bloomingdale Trail.
A rendering of the a bridge at Milwaukee and Bloomingdale avenues as part of the Bloomingdale Trail.
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Chicago Mayor's Office

BUCKTOWN — Residents have Chiberia to thank for snags in the city's 606 project that will delay the plan until June 2015, city officials said Friday.

The $95 million project, which includes the 2.7-mile Bloomingdale Trail on an elevated old rail line along Bloomingdale Avenue as well as as a series of parks, is being pushed back due to thick frost and other rough winter conditions the city experienced this year, said Rebekah Scheinfeld, Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

The plan, which spans the Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Humboldt Park neighborhoods, was expected to be completed this fall.

"We were not able to make as much progress in the winter months as we expected. We always planned to work through the winter, but with those heavy snowfalls, it made it harder to access the structures. It made it harder to have people out there — it just wasn’t safe and equipment doesn’t function properly when you get to negative 19,” Scheinfeld said.

CDOT workers labored aggressively to make up for the lost time this winter but haven't been able to overcome it, officials said. Work still needs to be done laying concrete and asphalt, and finishing the landscape which will consist of 250,000 plants, said Scheinfeld.

"That concrete work, that asphalt work, the landscaping — those need to be done when the weather is warmer. So as soon as that happens, we’ll be out there moving aggressively," said Scheinfeld.

The project's delay was foreshadowed in February when a major bridge move had to be rescheduled due to problems with the weather.

"The impact of the winter was pretty severe," said Beth White, director of the Chicago office of the Trust for Public Land, leading private partner in the 606 project. "It just has a ripple effect."

Setbacks like that one, along with general problems of working on frost-covered ground as well as issues sourcing plants for the landscaping, means the project is just 45 percent done, said White.

Usually the ground freezes about three feet deep, but this year's harsh weather caused the ground to freeze 4-and-a-half-feet deep, making buried utility cables immovable, a spokeswoman for the Trust said.

In brighter 606 news, Logan Square will be getting a new 4-acre park as part of project on the site of a former factory at 1800 N. Ridgeway Ave.

Because of the lack of open space in the neighborhood, White said the addition of the park, the sixth in the 606 plan, is a "huge accomplishment."

"People are going to see lots of activities for families and children," she said.

White said there will be a public meeting from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at the McCormick Tribune YMCA, 1834 N. Lawndale Ave., to gather feedback about what residents might want from the park as well as to provide an update on the 606.

White and Scheinfeld said residents have been patient and helpful throughout the project and have been largely understanding about the delay.

"They’re excited to see something happening," said Scheinfeld. "It’s been a long time coming in terms of community organizing to turn that abandoned railroad into an active transportation network and we’re doing that."

"I'm a little disappointed, but it's understandable, nothing is ever on time," said Bucktown neighbor Kevin Collins, 32, who lives near the trail.

Rick Roombos, co-owner of Miko's Italian Ice at 1846 N. Damen Ave., said he was also understanding of the project's pushback.

"I am not upset in any way. Things take longer than expected," Roombos said. "I am looking forward to it being done. It will bring a lot of extra people to Damen and the neighborhood in general."

Ridgeway Park (for reference, Bloomingdale Trail's western trailhead is at the bottom right corner)

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