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Stay Off The North Branch Trail Or Face a $500 Fine, Forest Preserve Warns

By Heather Cherone | September 2, 2016 10:11am | Updated on September 6, 2016 6:34am
 Eager bicyclists flooded the new extension of the North Branch Trail, which isn't open until Sept. 21.
Eager bicyclists flooded the new extension of the North Branch Trail, which isn't open until Sept. 21.
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Facebook/Matthew Bates

EDGEBROOK — With impatient bicyclists already riding the extension of the still-under-construction North Branch Trail, Cook County Forest Preserve officials warned Friday that riders who jump the gun could face a $500 fine for trespassing.

The trail will open Sept. 21 — after crews put the finishing touches on 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.

Until then, bicyclists, runners and walkers who ignore signs warning them to stay off the trail could be ticketed for trespassing, forest preserve spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said.

"We're excited that people want to use the trail, but it is not ready yet," Lukidis said. "We don't want someone to get hurt."

Crews have yet to install guardrails along elevated parts of the trail as well as a stoplight a traffic signal at the forest preserve volunteer resource center, 6100 N. Central Ave. in Edgebrook, Lukidis said.

"We don't want to fine anyone, but the signs and crews are being ignored," Lukidis said, acknowledging that the trail may seem ready for riders since it has been paved and two bridges — one over the Chicago River and another over the Metra tracks — are complete.

The entire three-mile extension of the trail from Edgebrook to Mayfair will allow runners, walkers and bikers to travel from from the Lakefront Bicycle Path via bicycle lanes on Elston Avenue to the Chicago Botanic Gardens in the North Shore.

The first stage of the trail extension — approximately 2.1 miles long — 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.

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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