Skokie Valley Trail plan
A project to provide 4.5 miles of new multi-use trail is back on track, more than a decade after the idea of extending the Skokie Valley Trail from Lake County through Northfield, Wilmette, Glenview and Skokie was first proposed. When completed, the Skokie Valley Trail would ultimately provide direct bicycle path connectivity from Lake County to Chicago.
Currently, the nearly 10-mile-long existing asphalt trail runs from Lake Bluff south to Dundee Road in Northbrook, mostly paralleling discontinued train tracks. It picks up again in Skokie, where for two miles it parallels the CTA Yellow line, providing easy access to both the Dempster-Skokie and Oakton-Skokie stations.
The proposed project would fill in most of the gap, with construction of a 10-foot-wide, hot-mix asphalt shared-used path connecting with Voltz Road in Northbrook on the north and Old Orchard Road in Skokie on the south.
It would be built by the Villages of Glenview, Wilmette, Northfield and Skokie, which joined together in March 2018 to secure an $188,000 “Invest in Cook County” grant that helped fund an engineering study for the trail segment.
The project report developed by Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers for the Illinois Department of Transportation indicated the trail could run along ComEd right-of-way, a portion of discontinued Union Pacific right-of-way, and a portion of existing Village of Northfield right-of-way. The path would extend further east or west at points to allow it to align with adjacent street intersections controlled by stop signs or traffic signals.
The report suggests how the trail could cross several major arterials:
- Willow Road would be crossed at an existing signalized intersection at Happ Road/Central Avenue
- At Winnetka Road, crossing would be at an existing crosswalk at the intersection with Northfield Road
- A traffic signal is proposed at the intersection of East Lake Avenue and West Park Drive
- A mid-block crossing is proposed at Glenview Road near Laramie Avenue
- The crossing at Old Orchard Road and Woods Drive is controlled by an existing signal
- A pedestrian bridge would be constructed to cross the Skokie River parallel to and east of the existing Union Pacific Railroad Bridge.
Officials from Glenview, Northbrook, Northfield, Wilmette and Skokie began talking in 2007 about whether the abandoned railroad track through their towns could be developed as a trail. They were concerned that the thin swath of land ideal for a trail might be irretrievably lost to parking developers or utilities.
Federal funds would be pursued for further engineering studies as well as construction. It is estimated the engineering, right-of-way acquisition, easements, permits and construction for the project would total almost $4.3 million.
Other communities have been moving to get smaller trail gaps filled in so that once completed, the Skokie Valley Trail would run continuously from Lake County to Chicago:
- In October 2018, an overpass at Touhy Avenue in Lincolnwood was completed, making the trail connection safer there.
- The Village of Northbrook is working to extend the trail south from Lake-Cook Road to Voltz Road by 2021.
- The Skokie Village Board is proceeding with engineering plans for a trail connection between Old Orchard Road and Dempster Street.
- Lake County is tentatively planning to construct a new bridge to carry the path over Lake Cook Road and a trail extension into Cook County in 2020.
May 29, 2019 public open house
A public open house was held Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at Glenview Village Hall.
Cook County video
Watch this video explaining the Skokie Valley Trail project, featuring John Yonan, superintendent of the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways.