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South Chicago, East Side

A Proposed Bridge Over Lake Calumet Would Make It Easier To Bike From Big Marsh Park To Pullman

"For far too long, this area has been inaccessible to our residents," Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) said. "This new trail will allow a new generation of neighbors to experience" Lake Calumet.

A rendering of the proposed Lake Calumet bridge, part of a trail linking Big Marsh Park and Pullman. The full cost of the trail is estimated at $27.1 million.
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SOUTH DEERING — Transportation advocates unveiled their plan for a bike and pedestrian path linking a Far South Side natural area with Chicago’s first national park, part of their push for wider improvements to cycling infrastructure.

Leaders with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Active Transportation Alliance, local parks groups and other organizations detailed designs and a feasibility study for a Lake Calumet trail Wednesday.The trail would improve travel between Big Marsh Park with the Pullman National Monument while creating access points for lake visitors.

The preferred trail alignment:

  • Begins near the Harborside International Golf Center’s entrance, 11001 S. Doty Ave.;
  • Crosses Illinois International Port District property to Lake Calumet;
  • Incorporates a bridge across the lake, Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and Stony Island Avenue;
  • Ends at Big Marsh Park’s entrance, 11559 S. Stony Island Ave.

The project would cost an estimated $27.1 million. Construction of the trail and related amenities would be $16.2 million and engineering would be $5.2 million, plus $5.7 million for incidentals.

Amenities like a $625,600 kayak area, a $920,000 rest area near the golf course and a $839,000 boat viewing area also are being considered along the proposed trail and bridge.

“There are so many different ways that neighbors would like to use the trail, in terms of making the connection from Pullman to Big Marsh [and] in terms of accessing Lake Calumet,” said Elizabeth Scott, a policy analyst for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. “Creating different opportunities … for this facility to be used is what we heard in the engagement process.”

Credit: Provided
A map of the preferred route for the proposed bike and pedestrian trail. The path starts near Doty Avenue and 111th Street at left, crosses Lake Calumet via bridge and ends at Big Marsh Park.

With the amenities, the trail project would encourage access to Lake Calumet “in addition to being able to walk and bike along it,” said Tim Gustafson, project manager for the design and engineering firm Epstein.

The project is supported by Rep. Robin Kelly and Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th).

“Around the turn of the century, Lake Calumet … was a popular destination for boating, fishing and hiking,” Sadlowski Garza said. “For far too long, this area has been inaccessible to our residents. This new trail will allow a new generation of neighbors to experience the nature and natural beauty of the lake.”

Credit: Epstein
A rendering of the kayak area.
Credit: Epstein
A rendering of the golf course rest area.

The Lake Calumet trail is one part of a larger need to upgrade bike infrastructure and improve access to green space throughout the South Side, said Paul Fitzgerald, executive director of Friends of Big Marsh.

In 2015, the Active Transportation Alliance developed the Big Marsh Access Action Plan, which includes the Lake Calumet trail, improves access to Big Marsh and connects the park — along with its extensive bike paths and tracks — to points of interest like the Major Taylor Trail and Burnham Greenway.

Residents’ participation at Wednesday’s meeting “goes to show how ready so [many] of us are on the South and Southeast sides to see these connections,” Fitzgerald said.

“I’m going to keep repeating those words, ‘South Side bike network,’ until we can really celebrate that it exists,” he said.

For the full Lake Calumet trail feasibility study report, click here. To view Wednesday’s meeting, click here.

Credit: Active Transportation Alliance
A map of the Active Transportation Alliance’s 2015 Big Marsh Access Action Plan. The portion captioned “Install a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Lake Calumet” was the main focus of Wednesday’s meeting.

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