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Bike Trail Linking Edgewater To Mississippi River Stalled Over Burnham Gap

Burnham Gap. Photo: Zbigniew Bzdak/Tribune

A key bike trail in Illinois that will link the Edgewater Neighborhood south to Lansing, is being held up due to an ongoing lawsuit.

The 11-mile Burnham Greenway is a former railroad right-of-way connecting Chicago to Lansing, Illinois. It has a two-mile gap that is the missing link in a crossroads of several trails of regional, state and national significance, according to www.burnhamplan100.lib.uchicago.edu. Closing the gap will connect the Calumet-Saganashkee (Cal-Sag) Trail to the Chicago Lakefront. The Greenway would further allow a connection west that ends at the Mississippi River.

However, a strip of sidewalk in south suburban Burnham, has proved a challenge for completion of the project which is sitting on $5 million in state and federal funds. The plan, which is supported by Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Village of Burnham, Openlands and ComEd, was to widen the sidewalk to ten feet, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to navigate more easily.

The issue is that it crosses five sets of railroad tracks owned by Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District(NICTD), which operates the South Shore Railroad, and the CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Chicago South Shore and South Bend railroads. NICTD argues that the area is a highly dangerous spot that will put those crossing the path in harms way. They cite the high train traffic and bad sight lines as reason.

In response to NICTD, plans are currently in the works for a bridge that will go over the tracks on the south end of the crossing. But the NICTD also wants a bridge over the north end as well, a project that will increase the price by as much as $10 million extra. The city of Burnham says it simply cannot fund the second bridge.

The issue continues to be debated before the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), who approve changes at crossings, for over four years now. Both sides currently await a scheduled hearing before an ICC judge in hopes of finding a resolution to the conflict.

The village of Burnham is anticipating the completion of the project, hoping that it will bring in needed economic development to the area. However, the legal fees for both sides are racking up, jeopardizing the plans. also, if there is a long delay, the millions in funds dedicated to the Burnham Greenway Gap could be taken away.

Hat Tip Chicago Tribune

 


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