EDGEBROOK — The first stage of the North Branch trail extension from Devon and Caldwell avenues to Forest Glen Avenue near the Metra station will open Sept. 21, Cook County Forest Preserve officials said.
Construction began in November on the first stage of the trail extension, which will stretch two miles from Devon and Caldwell avenues in Edgebrook to Forest Glen Avenue near the Metra station on the Milwaukee District North Line.
As of Friday, the first phase of the trail extension was 90 percent complete, forest preserve spokeswoman Stacina Stagner said.
The entire three-mile extension of the trail from Edgebrook to Mayfair would allow runners, walkers and bikers to travel from from the Lakefront Bicycle Path to the Chicago Botanic Gardens in the North Shore.
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, forest preserve officials said.
The entire three-mile trail extension — in the works since 2008 — has been delayed twice by budget concerns.
In June 2015, 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.
Forest preserve officials decided in October to construct the trail in two phases.
The forest preserve district has a budget of approximately $2 million to extend the trail from Forest Glen Avenue to Gompers Park in Mayfair, but in March both proposals came in over budget.
News about the construction of the second phase of the trail is expected to be announced by the time the first stage of the trail opens with a ceremonial ribbon cutting, Stagner said.
The trail could be open to riders and runners before the ribbon cutting, she added.
Some Edgebrook residents objected to the alignment of the trail, contending that it will snarl traffic along Central Avenue by installing a traffic signal at the forest preserve volunteer resource center, 6100 N. Central Ave. in Edgebrook, to allow users of the trail to cross Central Avenue and continue south.
Others objected to the trail because it will require that 425 trees be chopped down.
About half of those trees are dead or nonnative plants that need to be removed regardless of the trail's construction, forest preserve district officials said.
The trail will require that a bridge be built over the Chicago River east of Central Avenue and north of Indian Road.
Another bridge will be built to allow the trail to soar over the Milwaukee District North Line Metra tracks near Indian Road and Ardmore Avenue.
The trail will cross the Edens Expressway via an existing underpass that will be rehabbed, 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.
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