WEST RIDGE — The North Shore Channel Trail has finally been connected as one continuous pedestrian path, thanks to a long-in-the-works bridge that has opened to the public.
The trail — a popular pedestrian and biking path stretching from Lincoln Square to the north suburbs — has always been separated by the North Shore Channel near Lincoln Avenue. A new bridge spanning the channel now makes the trail a single, nearly 7-mile continuous path from the North Side to suburbs Lincolnwood and Skokie.
Work on the bridge, called the Lincoln Village Pedestrian Bridge, was completed in January and is now being advertised as social-distance friendly destination now that warm weather has arrived. An official opening of the bridge was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to 50th Ward Ald. Debra Silverstein’s office.
Its debut ends a years-long effort to connect the trail, a project that has had many fits and starts.
Work on the 180-foot, $3.4 million bridge began in February 2019, with city officials calling it the “missing link” on the trail. Design plans for the bridge were announced in 2016, though the project dates back years prior.
The Chicago Department of Transportation in 2005 designed a bridge to span the North Shore Channel, according to the Chicago Reader. But the then West Ridge alderman, Bernard Stone, pulled his support for the project.
After Stone lost re-election to Silverstein in 2011, the project was revived.
The 16-foot-wide bridge connects to the new Bernard Stone Park and the trail on the west bank of the North Shore Channel, with an additional five miles of trails on the west bank at Lincoln Village and continue into Lincolnwood, Skokie and Evanston.
Previously, those using the trail on the east side of the channel had to connect to the trail on the other side via a hazardous, makeshift connections that sends trail users onto a heavily trafficked portion of Lincoln Avenue.
With the jogging and biking season now in full swing, Silverstein asked those using the new bridge to practice social distancing when necessary.
“If you see a crowd, turn around and find an alternative route,” Silverstein wrote in a note to constituents.
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