Work expected soon on last gap in Des Plaines River Trail

  • A sign alerts users to where the Des Plaines River Trail is interrupted near Lincolnshire, but soon the two segments of the trail will be connected.

      A sign alerts users to where the Des Plaines River Trail is interrupted near Lincolnshire, but soon the two segments of the trail will be connected. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer, 2012

 
 
Posted5/5/2015 5:30 AM

Lake County Forest Preserve District commissioners finally can tell their constituents when the last gap in the signature Des Plaines River Trail will be closed.

Pending approval of a construction contract by the full board, which is expected May 12, work on the 1,500-foot long section along the west bank of the river in Lincolnshire will begin June 1 and hopefully be done by September.

 

"For years, people have asked us, 'When will you have this project completed?'" said Carol Calabresa, who has been a commissioner since 1986. "Now, we can tell them."

Two forest district board committees on Monday unanimously recommended approval of a $839,138 contract with Campanella & Sons Inc., of Wadsworth, to build the last section. The cost is $300,000 more than originally estimated because water and ice have eaten away the river bank and a 500-foot-long steel retaining wall needs to be installed.

"This will protect it (the trail) from settling and collapsing," said Randy Seebach, director of planning and land preservation.

The expected contract approval would represent the last piece of a forest district vision to own land and build a trail along the Des Plaines River that began in 1961 with the acquisition of Van Patten Woods near the Wisconsin border. Construction of the various trail segments began about 35 years ago, Seebach said.

With the exception of what is known as the Boznos property, the trail stretches the length of the county -- about 31 miles -- from Russell Road south to Lake-Cook Road. Even with the added cost, the contract approval is expected to be a formality as the biggest hurdle was cleared last summer.

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After 20 years of periodic overtures, the district last July announced a deal had been struck with Gus Boznos, owner of the Par-King Skill Golf course, for the property needed to close the trail gap. The deal was to buy 4.4 acres along the river east of Milwaukee Avenue, just south of Aptakisic Road, to become part of the E.L. Ryerson Conservation Area. The $220,000 sale closed in December.

"In some of those areas, we only had about 15 feet to snake that 12-foot path through there. That's the best we could do," Seebach said.

A condition of the sale was that an ornamental fence be installed for 1,700 feet on the west side of the trail. The cost of the fence is estimated at $100,000.

Commissioner Bonnie Thomson Carter has been on the board for 19 years.

"I think our patience paid off. I think it happened in the right way at the right time," she said of the Boznos purchase. "I've always been amazed the forest preserve commissioners had this vision to own land along the Des Plaines River."

Campanella was the lowest of five bidders at nearly $83,000 below the next-lowest bidder.

@dhmickzawislak

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