Final Bloomingdale Trail meeting presents nearly final designs and plans


The Bloomingdale Trail design team, a consortium of engineers, planners, artists, and horticulture experts from Chicago and around the country, presented their latest designs at the final public meeting on Monday night at the Humboldt Park field house. The elevated park’s design was divided into 7 segments and printed on enormous posters in two rooms. An eighth segment summarized the phenology planting concept and artwork scattered across the Bloomingdale Trail.

I inspected many of the designs and listened to people express their admiration, excitement, as well as lingering concerns. They included:

  • How tall is the privacy screen? 10 feet; the privacy screen consists of a metal mesh wall covered in plants.
  • Will traffic configurations change on Lawndale Avenue or Bloomingdale Avenue? Nope.
  • How are fast cyclists going to be slowed down? This question has been answered identically at every meeting: the design team has implemented a variety of solutions including horizontal and vertical “deflection” that serve to calm traffic. In this author’s opinion, the mix of traffic (people walking, jogging, pushing strollers, rolling on mobility devices) will slow cyclists.

Enjoy the designs (view the full set of photos). When available, we will publish the digital versions of these images. A comment card at the meeting indicated that this was the final period for neighbors to make comments about the designs (email them to Read our past coverage of the project.

Update: Less than 2 hours after posting, the digital images are available. Download a 3 MB .pdf file


Access point at Milwaukee Avenue and Leavitt Avenue

There are three points of entry at the Milwaukee and Leavitt acess point: (1) west side of Leavitt, north of the viaduct; (2) east side of Leavitt, south of the viaduct; (3) east side of Leavitt, north of the viaduct. Entry point (1) provides the most direct access for people cycling. Entry point (3) is a winding path up the hill. You can see the entry points in more detail in this photograph or on page 42 of last night’s slideshow (.pdf).


Walsh Park with dog friendly area and “wheel friendly event plaza”

I missed the presentation at the beginning of the meeting where this was shown on the projection screen. It looks to be a stage that can be used by kids and adults on scooters, bikes, skateboards, and wheelchairs when no planned event is occurring.


Privacy screens abound

You can see on the plans where the privacy screens will be built. They will separate homes and the Bloomingdale Trail when the homes are within a few feet of the viaduct. It’s depicted by continuous, short boxes with lines inside (don’t confuse them with the long dash, short dash surrounding the viaduct – that’s the project boundary).


Western Avenue

You’ll be able to access the Bloomingdale Trail from both sides of Western Avenue.


Western terminus

The western end has two entrances: at dead end of Ridgeway Avenue, and from Lawndale Avenue. A spiral ramp will lead up to the western observatory, giving good views west down the railroad tracks or east down the Bloomingdale Trail. The hill reaches about 10 feet above the park level, and over 20 feet above the Ridgeway Avenue cul-de-sac level.

View all photos from the meeting.

Take Action

Please use this comment form for your feedback, and send to or fax to 312-750-1433. The comment period closes this Friday, October 12, 2012.

22 thoughts on “Final Bloomingdale Trail meeting presents nearly final designs and plans”

    1. From the presentation:
      Construction begins summer 2013.
      Bloomingdale “basics” opens fall 2014. I think this means access points and a bikeable and walkable path. Enhanced Bloomingdale opens fall 2015. I think this means all of the art and landscaping will be in place (although the landscaping will take years to fill out).
      From the last meeting, the design team indicated there would be activity (now and into the future) on the viaduct that’s about engineering testing.

      1. Thanks for the info, Steven. I haven’t been following things very closely but live directly next to the trail over at the 1740 N. Maplewood (Buck City Lofts building). Is everything completely approved by the city? I remember seeing news on it a few months back. Construction is 100% beginning next Summer? Very glad to hear this is finally moving forward. Thanks.

    1. That had never been included in the project scope and for very good reasons: the property owners are completely different. However, the deign is such that an eastern expansion isn’t precluded.

      1. In the presentation, the speaker said the designers did design Walsh park so that in the future if the trail were to be expanded it would be easy to do. The trail looks better and better every presentation.

      2. I may have heard this incorrectly — there was an awful lot of information packed into a relatively quick presentation — but I think the bridge over Ashland is actually being removed and repurposed over Milwaukee or Western. So yes, they are designing the terminus at Walsh to allow for future expansion to the river, but it seems they’ll need to build a new bridge at that point as well.

          1. They are doing that. CDOT wants to blow out the support columns at Western Ave. to widen the street and realign the sidewalks. The bridge currently at Western is a concrete one so it can’t support the structure without struts; the Ashland bridge, however, is reinforced steel.

    2. A simple solution to improve the east end would be to use the existing viaduct over Ashland and then provide a path through the fenced off area under the Kennedy to connect the trail to Cortland. This would allow people traveling east on the Bloomingdale Trail to continue east using existing infrastructure to cross the Union Pacific tracks and the river. The gap between these routes is so short that it’s frustrating that there is no plan to address that last little bit.

  1. This is really exciting, i agree with the comments above that the progress being made presentation to presentation is inspiring confidence in this projects completion.

  2. Steve,

    I thank you for your updates as well as your somewhat critical insight as to the development of the trail. You are the only one who seems to get there still is not 100% by-in to this project, and that the planning process has not been as forthright as they pretend. I live right at Bloomingdale and Kedzie. We have never been notified of any construction coming up so soon. let alone be asked about how this will impact our homes. We cut off Bloomingdale Ave. It is my front yard. You would think that there would be some attempt to visit, have a meeting, send mail to survey what we thought. There are seven homes right where I live, and no one plus the homes from troy to Spaulding directly along the trail that have been spoken to in person. I know because I have asked several. I am not against the trail, just concerned that real participation and input for something so big has not saturated the real actual residents that live directly next to the project. Yes several community meeting have happened, I have not made any neither have any of the homeowners I mentioned, so I only get info what I read.

    Was there any zoning changes to the property to convert use from rail to trail/park? If so were notifications sent out as required for this? Just curious and still skeptical.

    1. stillskeptical,

      I agree with your assessment of very poor communication around this project. I do support the Bloomingdale Trail, and think it will be an excellent addition to the community, and connect neighborhoods in a healthy and active way. I too live directly on the trail at Damen and Willow. My biggest concern is the traffic it will bring literally to my front door and the lack of privacy we will have. Our townhouses are on the same grade as the trail, the only ones I believe that are at that grade. A 10′ privacy fence will give us privacy to our garage, but not the living room or bedrooms. And as I understand it, the privacy screens are not solid, and will be covered by foliage. Therefore, throughout the long Chicago winters, we can expect even less privacy. Furthermore, I’m concerned about the security with a fence that is so easily climbable. I just wish there had been some sort of outreach to let us know when these decisions were being made. We reached out to our Alderman (Wauguespack) with these concerns, and he brought them up with the commission to no avail.

      1. There have been many community meetings about the trail but you probably missed the biggest one which was two day design charette that asked the community to spend two full days with the designers going over safety, arts, policing, landscape and lighting. There was a group of residents from wicker park, where the houses come right up to the trail that had the same concerns that you have. The designers worked with the residents and decided that at these points in the trail not only would they have the privacy fence but the trail would dip below grade to create even more privacy for residents whose houses are extremely close to the trail.

    2. “Yes several community meeting have happened, I have not made any neither have any of the homeowners I mentioned.”

      And so…you’re housebound and all the others are too….?? Just…trying to understand why you couldn’t be at any of those meetings…and yet are absolutely sure no one wants your input….

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