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Construction On North Branch Trail Second Phase Underway, Officials Say

By Heather Cherone | September 13, 2016 5:27am
 The first phase of the North Branch Trail extension will open Sept. 21, officials said.
The first phase of the North Branch Trail extension will open Sept. 21, officials said.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

FOREST GLEN — Work on the final phase of the North Branch Trail from Forest Glen to Mayfair is underway after being delayed by a budget crunch, Cook County Forest Preserve officials said.

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, will open Sept. 21, officials said.

Forest Preserve officials agreed to pay Elgin-based Martam Construction $2.3 million to build the mile-long second phase of the trail from Forest Glen Avenue to Gompers Park in Mayfair, documents show.

While that is less than the first bids for the project — which came in at $2.5 million and the other for $3.1 million — it is more than $2 million, which was the original budget for the final phase.

Heather Cherone talks about the North Branch Trail extension.

As crews put the finishing touches on the trail's first phase, work has already begun on the second and final phase, forest preserve spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said.

"We are pleased we were able to overcome the financial issues and stay within budget," Lukidis said. "And we are pleased we didn't have to stop work and start again."

Construction of the first phase of the trail extension cost $5.3 million, officials said.

The entire trail extension — in the works since 2008 — will cost $7.6 million, with 80 percent coming from the federal government and the rest coming from the forest preserve district, officials said. That is slightly less than the original budget for the entire project.

The forest preserve district plans to use a $1.6 million federal grant from the Transportation Alternatives Program to cover most of its share of the second phase of the trail.

The second phase of the trail will cross the Edens Expy. via an existing underpass that will be rehabbed, and a new underpass will be built to allow the trail to cross Cicero Avenue north of LaBagh Woods in Forest Glen.

The entire three-mile trail extension has been delayed twice by budget concerns.

The extension 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.

Forest preserve officials have warned that riders who jump the gun before the trail opens could face a $500 fine for trespassing.

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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