Chicago Eyes an Elevated Bike Trail

<p>The Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail want to convert a three-mile section of abandoned elevated rail line into a bike trail. It could take a decade, but the idea already has the backing of some of the city's power players.</p>
March 14, 2008, 10am PDT | leespeaks
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"In Paris, there's a landscaped, elevated bikeway more than a mile long, reclaimed from old railroad property. Another has just opened in Manhattan. Now, community organizers around Bucktown and Humboldt Park say there should be one in Chicago too. They envision biking, Rollerblading and jogging for three miles without a stop sign. The city of Chicago and some powerful funders are teaming up to help make it happen."

"Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail wants to save [an] old fragment of abandoned railroad viaduct that parallels Bloomingdale Avenue. It's about 1700 north - from about Lawndale on the West to Ashland on the east."

"In the early years of the 20th century, this little rail spur was booming - it served light industry here along Bloomingdale and stretched out to the steel processors and heavy manufacturing along Elston and onto Goose Island. Until at least the mid-30's it even carried passengers, and there were stations here at Kedzie. But the world changed, so as heavy industry slowly gave way to Best Buy and Home Depot the little railroad died. And that's when Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail was born."

"Ben Helphand, Katy Rooney and many others have been living this dream for years, and it may be another decade before it's a reality. By some estimates, the whole project could cost fifty million. Bridges have to be replaced. The trail has to be paved. They'll need benches, landscaping, lighting - and six miles of fencing along the edges."

"Helphand and friends have some powerful allies. Mayor Daley's on board, as is the Park District, the Departments of Transportation, Planning and Environment, some major private foundations, and these folks. "

Thanks to Ken Davis

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Published on Tuesday, March 11, 2008 in Chicago Public Radio
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