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As North Branch Trail Grows, Group Hopes To Make Area Businesses Thrive

 The trail will cross over the Chicago River at Central Avenue via a bridge, according to plans.
The trail will cross over the Chicago River at Central Avenue via a bridge, according to plans.
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Facebook/Margaret Laurino

EDGEBROOK — A new group is forming to devise a way to capitalize on the 10,000 bicyclists — and their wallets — expected to use the extension of the North Branch Trail once it's complete.

Led by community organizer Jac Charlier, the group hopes to harness the interest generated by the three-mile trail extension to boost economic development efforts in areas along the trail, including Edgebrook, North Mayfair, Forest Glen and Indian Woods.

Everyday Edgebrook, which is working to bring more shoppers to the area around Devon and Central avenues, as well as the Edgebrook Chamber of Commerce and the Edgebrook Community Association are expected to participate in the group, Charlier said.

"We hope more groups will come on board as the work on the trail continues," Charlier said.

One of the founders of the anti-O'Hare noise Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition, Charlier ran unsuccessfully in March's Democratic primary for the 15th District seat in the Illinois House.

Construction began in November on the first stage of the trail extension that will stretch from Devon and Caldwell avenues to Forest Glen Avenue near the Metra station on the Milwaukee District North Line. It is expected to take a year to complete.

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.

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 addition to the bridge over the river east of Central Avenue and north of Indian Road, the trail will cross over the Metra tracks near Indian Road and Ardmore Avenue via a second bridge.

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 information about the new group, email jac.charlier@gmail.com.

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