Bloomingdale Trail Framework Plan Released, Public Meeting Tonight

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 15, 2012 7:20PM

There's a public meeting for the Bloomingdale Trail Framework plan 6 p.m. tonight at the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse. The framework is available online for download or reading; those interested can read it here in PDF format.

The plan, for the first time, lays out a detailed vision that would transform the nearly three miles of rail into a multi-use park connecting near northwest side neighborhoods, balancing the needs of people who live near the trail with the trail's users, and serve as a catalyst for change for transit, art, sustainability, and greening public spaces.

The plan borrows elements of the Lakefront trail and Sauganash Trail, another successful rails-to-trails project, and other successful elevated rails-to-trails projects like New York City's High Line. The ambitious and wide-ranging nature of the Bloomingdale Trail Framework plan is most reminiscent of the High Line, in its incorporation.

Unlike the High Line, the Bloomingdale Trail plan would connect it to a host of adjacent parks and be bicycle-friendly. It would also serve an area with a population of 21,000 people per square mile.

It's the access points along the trail that have us intrigued the most about the project. From Ashland at the eastern end to Ridgeway on the west, the trail would allow for eight prioritized access points, and another five under consideration. The goal here is to have access points every half-mile, and to have reasonable walking distances to parks, schools, businesses and transit, pedestrian transportation and bike routes on major streets.

The purpose of tonight's meeting is to discuss the plan and its access points with the design team behind it. The city has obtained a significant amount of funding for the project from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), while Exelon, CNA and Boeing have chipped in a combined $7 million toward the project.

What are your thoughts on the plan?