Plans On Bloomingdale Trail Move Forward

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Nov 10, 2008 9:30PM

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The plans for The Bloomingdale Trail, a proposed elevated bike and walking path on an old rail line on the city's Northwest Side, are moving forward after the City of Chicago acquired more properties that would enable the trail to become a reality. The plans for the 3-mile trail have been boosted by the City's purchasing of lands for three parks and access ramps, but it still must somehow find $45 million for funding, not an easy task at all, especially given the city's $420 million budget hole. The path is 18 feet up and railing as well as landscaping will be used to prevent bikers from falling off.

"For years this has been invisible space—viaducts throughout the city that you travel under without looking at what's above," said Beth White, director of the Chicago office of the Trust for Public Land. "But you have this whole other vantage point of the city that you can't find anywhere else."

Supporters hope they could eventually connect the trail, which would end at Ashland Avenue, to the Chicago River and lakefront trails to the east. The trail meets up with the city's boulevard system at Humboldt Boulevard. Biking enthusiasts say that on the western edge of the trail, bicyclists would be able to go west to the Illinois Prairie Path, which connects to a network of trails to the Mississippi.

"You could start in Wicker Park and go all the way to the Quad Cities," said Ben Helphand, president of the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail.

We like the idea of the Bloomingdale Trail, an opportunity to use existing structures to beautify neighborhoods and give bikers another safe route through the city (well, not counting that 18-foot drop). But there is the issue of money and we're just not sure where it's going to come from. More information on the Bloomingdale Trail, including ways to donate, can be found at its website.

Image of proposed park from the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail website