Public input sought on proposed connection of Skokie Valley, North Branch trails
The Lake County Division of Transportation is seeking public input on a proposed multiuse path to bridge a milelong gap along heavily-traveled Lake-Cook Road.
LCDOT is in the early stages of a study to determine the best location for a new path to connect the Skokie Valley Trail on the west and the North Branch Trail at the Chicago Botanic Garden to the east.
Finding the best way to connect the bike path over Route 41 and the Skokie River with an emphasis on increasing the safety and comfort of bicyclists and pedestrians through the corridor, is the other main goal, according to LCDOT.
To do that, transportation officials have created a website packed with information, including a virtual public forum and online survey to solicit comments and ideas through Aug. 29.
"We've found the virtual forums to be a great way to educate and collect input from residents especially during the early phases of a transportation project," explained Alex Carr, LCDOT spokesman.
"Instead of having to attend a meeting in-person at a specific date and time, anyone can go the website at their leisure to learn more about a project, provide their input, and even see what others saying," he added.
The website can be found at lake-cook-bike-path-lakecountyil.hub.arcgis.com.
Planners say the project would connect the paths and provide access to key destinations such as the Botanic Garden, Ravinia, Lake Michigan and a Metra commuter rail station.
There are obstacles. A sidewalk runs only along the north side of Lake-Cook Road but has to cross major intersections at Skokie Boulevard and Route 41, for example.
Many locations along the sidewalk are less than ideal for bicyclists because of utility poles, structures, landscaping and traffic conditions, including Lake-Cook Road, which is traveled by about 30,000 vehicles a day in the project area.
Also, there is no sidewalk on much of the south side of Lake-Cook Road, according to LCDOT.
"There's really a lack of east-west connectivity between the two paths," said Matt Emde, project manager. "There's definitely some challenges."
The first step is to narrow the focus. Six concepts, all with specific considerations, are presented on the website.
"Once we refine the alternatives, we would expect to have one or two public meetings," Emde said. "We want to get some opinion on those concepts first."
Options include staying on the north side of Lake-Cook or creating a new one on the south of Lake-Cook; building a north-south combo; "swooping" north or south to avoid crossing at the Route 41 intersection; or, creating a new bike path in the Lake-Cook Road median.
The complicated project will involve many stakeholders including state and Cook County transportation officials, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, city of Highland Park and village of Northbrook.
Construction is targeted for 2026 depending on the availability of funding and project readiness.