PILSEN — Chicago is getting another public trail, this time on the city's Lower West Side, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sunday.
The path and promenade, to be called "Paseo," will stretch about four miles along a largely abandoned BNSF railway between the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods, according to a news release.
This is at least the third "rails to trails" path announced during Emanuel's tenure, following the 606 Bloomingdale Trail's debut last summer on the Northwest Side and the New ERA Trail planned for Englewood.
Reporter Alex Nitkin shares details on plans for 'Paseo.'
Emanuel joined city planners and aldermen Sunday afternoon to announce the project at Paseo Community Garden, 944 W. 21st St.
"We're seeing a whole vision of what was an old railroad track that was abandoned, and turning it into a public space for children and families of multiple generations to come together and enjoy," Emanuel said.
Starting at the intersection of 16th Street and Sangamon Street, Paseo — the Spanish word pasear means to stroll — will lead down to Cermak Road and follow Blue Island Avenue and 26th Street all the way to Central Park Avenue.
The path will include separate lanes for walking and biking, Emanuel said, "so you can walk along without always having to worry about hearing 'On your left.'"
All along the path will be "gathering spaces, gardens and public art that celebrates Latino culture," the release read.
Aldermen Danny Solis (25th) and George Cardenas (12th) also spoke, trumpeting the cultural and economic benefits the trail could bring.
"Local businesses will flourish with new customers and add value to the existing homes and centers of Little Village," Cardenas said, "bringing Little Village to the center of Chicago's booming neighborhood improvements."
The project was first proposed in 2006, officials said, and plans have been in the works since 2013. Now, Chicago Department of Transportation Rebekah Scheinfeld said, ripping out the out-of-use BNSF rail lines is the "last remaining obstacle" to making the project a reality.
"By developing under-utilized spaces, we're working to improve quality of life for everyone who lives in the area," Scheinfeld said.
Emanuel also addressed concerns that the path would unduly escalate property values and price current residents out of the area, as many people feared along the 606 trail.
"It's not an either/or situation — you have to be able to invest in neighborhoods while also being sensitive to affordability," Emanuel said, pointing to recent affordable housing developments built in Pilsen. "And this is something that neighbors have been asking for for a long time."
The section of the path along Sangamon Street is projected to be ready for use "later this summer," according to the announcement.
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