I ventured onto the Bloomingdale Trail this Independence Day weekend, an abandoned elevated railroad viaduct owned by Canadian Pacific. I encountered at least six other “trail” users in 30 minutes, including people on a stroll, a runner, and a person walking two dogs. I can’t wait for the day when I can ride my bike on a smooth asphalt path between neighborhoods without encountering noisy and polluting automobile traffic. Read on for updates on the contract and design process.
A Blue Line train passes over the (future) Bloomingdale Trail.
Grid writer John published in the Chicago Reader on June 2, 2011, “Stalled on the Bloomingdale Trail,” discussing the delay in awarding Arup the contract:
…in July 2009 the city announced its choice of Arup, a London-based multinational firm, to do this work, which is expected to take 18 months.
At that time, CDOT spokesman Brian Steele told me that his department hoped to officially award the contract to Arup by the end of the year. “Once the contract is awarded, the contractor can start work right away,” he said.
But more than sixteen months have elapsed since then, and the contract still hasn’t been approved.
The City of Chicago finally signed the contract with Arup, effective May 25, 2011, for preliminary design and engineering services. It essentially means Arup and its subconsultants (all listed in the contract) will inspect the structure to determine what work will be needed to make it safe for public use. And to outline in more detail exactly what the City will be acquiring when Canadian Pacific transfers ownership. The Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) website was updated June 8, 2011, with a press release describing the award. Specifically, Arup will “inventory the condition of 37 viaducts along the line” and “perform geotechnical and environmental studies.”
Arup will involve the public as part of this contract. They will hold the first public meeting this summer and “lead a design charette in the fall.” CDOT staff were passing out postcards at the Bike To Work Week Rally that asked people to submit their comments to CDOT via email or its Facebook Page.
The viaduct is very easy to access from multitude locations. Visitors will note lots of evidence of a variety of activity.
Looking north at Damen Avenue. The trees on the right are bordering Churchill/Holstein Park, a likely future access point.
I’d like to see separate paved paths: one for people to bicycle on and one for all other users. I think the Bloomingdale Trail will become a popular commuting and recreation route, much like the Lakefront Trail. I believe the two trails will have vastly different use numbers, a dual-path setup on the elevated railroad can be seen as an experiment for future changes to the Lakefront Trail.
What features do you think the Bloomingdale Trail should have? Don’t suggest that we imitate the High Line – this is Chicago, not New York City, and second to none.