A pedestrian bridge installed over Interstate 55 early Wednesday morning will link two Forest Preserve District of Will County trails and provide safer passage for walkers, runners and bicyclists traveling along Black Road between Joliet and Shorewood.
The bridge installation along the south side of Black Road took place between 1-3 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22. I-55 traffic was stopped twice for short durations as the two bridge sections, which total 300 feet, were set in place.
The bridge over I-55 was the second pedestrian bridge to be installed along Black Road as part of the Forest Preserve’s plan. The first bridge, a 260-foot span over the DuPage River, was installed in August 2020. The two bridges and a path along Black Road will connect the DuPage River Trail in Hammel Woods to the Rock Run Greenway Trail in Rock Run Preserve.
“We’ve long focused on providing access to forest preserves and linking people, places and nature,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve’s executive director. “With the connection of these two regional trails, folks in Shorewood, Joliet, Crest Hill, Rockdale and towns farther away are linked to each other and to additional regional and local trails, schools, colleges, libraries and places to shop, eat and explore.”
Finishing touches on the project will continue, including asphalt and concrete trail connections along Black Road, retaining walls, bridge decking and traffic signal adjustments at East Frontage Road. The work is expected to be finished in October. Until then, path users should obey the “trail closed” signs that are posted in the construction areas.
Grants from the federally funded Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program are providing 80 percent of the project’s cost, with the Forest Preserve contributing 20 percent as a local share.
ITEP is a competitive program for projects that promote alternative transportation options, including bike and pedestrian travel. And CMAQ is designed to improve air quality and mitigate congestion. The Forest Preserve has been planning the project since 1999 but did not begin to receive grant funding until 2014 and 2015.
In addition to linking the two trails and preserves, the Black Road project also will provide a critical link to more than 50 miles of regional trails including the I&M Canal Trail and the Old Plank Road Trail.
For more information on the Forest Preserve District of Will County, visit ReconnectWithNature.org.