Work is expected to resume this month on a Forest Preserve District of Will County trail connection project that will provide relief for walkers, runners and bicyclists who travel along Black Road.
The project will provide a safer way to cross Interstate 55 and the DuPage River between two Forest Preserve Trails: the Rock Run Greenway Trail in Joliet and the DuPage River Trail in Shorewood. Both trails cross Black Road.
The Forest Preserve has been planning the project since 1999 but did not begin to receive grant funding until 2014 and 2015. 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 project is being overseen by the Illinois Department of Transportation because state grants were awarded for the work. IDOT approved a $2.35 million contract for the project with D Construction in December 2017.
In addition to a 260-foot bridge over the DuPage River and a 300-foot bridge over I-55, the project will include new asphalt trail segments along both the south and north sides of Black Road and east of I-55. Traffic signal modifications also will be added at East Frontage Road to make it safer for people to cross Black Road from north to south. The pedestrian bridges will be located on the south side of Black Road.
The Black Road trail connection 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.
“We’ve long focused on providing access to forest preserves and linking people, places and nature,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve’s chief operating officer. “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.”
The project has been delayed because utility companies encountered bedrock while attempting to move their lines. The work is expected to be completed this fall or winter, but weather and other factors could change the timeline. For more information on the Forest Preserve District of Will County, visit ReconnectWithNature.org.