The Next 606? New Bike-Friendly Trail To Connect Pilsen And Little Village

By Mae Rice in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 21, 2016 3:16PM

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Map of the proposed trail route (photo courtesy of the Mayor's Office)

On Sunday, the Mayor’s office unveiled plans for a four-mile rails-to-trail conversion project in the Pilsen area, called "Paseo." The project will transform a mostly-abandoned stretch of BNSF Railways railroad into a multi-purpose path connecting Pilsen and Little Village. But don't call it the next Bloomingdale Trail.

"The trail is going to have its own local identity, so there’s no mistaking it with other rail-conversion projects like The 606,” Ald. George Cardenas (12th), a collaborator on the project, said in a statement. “There’s no comparison beyond the previous owner being a railroad company."

The trail will run from 16th Street south to 31st Street, and plans for it currently include a path for walking and bicycling, community gardens, public art celebrating Latino culture and “cross-generational gathering spaces.”

How these will differ from regular gathering spaces remains to be seen. Construction on the Sangamon section of the trail will begin in May, and that segment is scheduled to open this summer. Construction on the rest of the trail is scheduled to begin this fall, with no opening date announced yet.

The project, which has been in the works for a decade, is a collaborative effort. Mayor Rahm Emanuel worked on it with the two alderman whose jurisdiction the trail passes through— Ald. Danny Solis (25th) and Cardenas—as well as the Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld, Chicago Department of Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman and community organizations.

“Paseo is a community vision years in the making that is finally being realized,” Mayor Emanuel said in a statement. "This is a strategic opportunity to adapt outmoded infrastructure into an important amenity that will enhance the quality of life for residents. It will move forward as a vibrant reflection of the unique cultural assets that characterize Pilsen and Little Village.”