EDGEBROOK — Construction of the three-mile extension of the North Branch Trail south from Edgebrook to Mayfair will start Nov. 30, Cook County Forest Preserve officials said Thursday.
The first stage of the trail extension will stretch from Devon and Caldwell avenues to Forest Glen Avenue near the Metra station on the Milwaukee District North Line, said Lambrini Lukidis, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Forest Preserves, which is partnering with the Illinois Department of Transportation to build the trail extension.
The first stage of the trail extension — approximately 2.1 miles long — will cost $5.3 million, with the forest preserve district paying 20 percent of the cost and federal grants covering the rest of the tab, Lukidis said. The project is being managed by the Illinois Department of Transporation, she added.
While forest preserve officials decided in October to construct the trail in two phases because of a budget crunch, a $1.6 million federal grant from the Transportation Alternatives Program means the agency now has enough money to fund the second part of the trail from Forest Glen Avenue to Gompers Park in Mayfair, Lukidis said.
Construction firms will be asked in the spring to submit bids to build the second phase of the trail, and if they come in on budget, the first and second stages of the trail could be built at the same time, Lukidis said.
Once completed, the project would allow runners, walkers and bikers to travel 21 miles from the Lakefront Bicycle Path to the Chicago Botanic Gardens in the North Shore.
In June, forest preserve officials put plans for the off-road trail extension on hold after proposals to build the trail came in $2 million more than expected.
The trail extension — in the works since 2008 — had been expected to cost $7.7 million, with 80 percent coming from the federal government and the rest coming from the forest preserve district, officials said.
The first stage is expected to take at least year to build, Lukidis said.
When it is built, the trail's alignment will not be changed in response to concerns voiced by Edgebrook residents that it will snarl traffic along Central Avenue.
A traffic signal will be installed at the forest preserve volunteer resource center, 6100 N. Central Ave., in Edgebrook, to allow the trail to cross Central Avenue and continue south.
Others objected to the trail because it will require that 425 trees be chopped down.
Almost half of those trees are dead or non-native plants that need to be removed regardless of the trail's construction, forest preserve district officials said.
In response to those complaints, forest preserve officials this week asked supporters of the trail to contact Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, whose district's boundaries recently changed to include Edgebrook and the planned path of the trail.
Gainer has received letters from the Edgebrook Community Association and residents of the Old Edgebrook subdivision asking her to stop the trail extension, said Kindy Kruller, a senior planner with the Forest Preserve District.
The trail alignment was approved by the Cook County board in 2014. Its construction requires permits from county officials, but no further action by the commissioners, Lukidis said.
Gainer said she supports the trail, but understands the concerns of Edgebrook residents about traffic and safety.
"This is such an incredible opportunity to give people a chance to experience the trail system," Gainer said. "It will be a great amenity."
The first stage of trail extension will require that a bridge be built over the Chicago River east of Central Avenue and north of Indian Road as well as a bridge over the Metra tracks near Indian Road and Ardmore Avenue.
As part of the second stage, which will end at Foster and Kostner avenues, the trail will cross the Edens Expressway via an existing underpass, which will be improved, and a new underpass will be built to allow the trail to cross Cicero north of LaBagh Woods in Forest Glen.
Once completed, the extension of the North Branch Trail could connect to a trail being built along a defunct railway known as the Weber Spur. That project is in the initial stages.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: