LANSING | Nature lovers and hikers in the south suburbs will get more walking trails this year as the Forest Preserve District plans to connect three separate portions of the Thorn Creek Trail System, adding 4.75 miles to trails in Thornton, Lansing, Glenwood, Chicago Heights and Park Forest, according to a news release.
The project will link the Thorn Creek Trail with Old Plank Road Trail in Park Forest and the Burnham Greenway Trail, which runs through the south suburbs along the Illinois/Indiana border. The existing trail is 12.7 miles.
The first connection begins at 26th Street in Chicago Heights, following the creek northeastward to the existing trail at Joe Orr Woods on Joe Orr Road. The second connection begins at the existing trail at Chicago Heights/Glenwood Road, again following the creek northeast to 183rd Street and Cottage Grove, near Sweetwoods Forest Preserve south of Thornton. Completion of these two segments would close a significant gap in the Grand Illinois Trail.
Federal grants are providing funding for 80 percent of the project costs, the release states. The total cost for the Thorn Creek Trail project is $7.9 million. The Forest Preserve District provides a 20 percent local match, said Karen Vaughan, spokeswoman for the Forest Preserve District.
The Forest Preserve District is also planning to construct 9.6 miles of the Cal-Sag Trail through Lemont, Willow Springs and Palos Park. The new 28.6 mile Cal-Sag Trail will be the primary east-west multipurpose trails in the south suburbs, linking the Centennial and I&M Canal trails in the west to the Burnham Greenway and Chicago lakefront trails in the east.
The total cost for the Cal Sag Trail is $6,112,292 for the west portion, and $1,669,689 for the east portion, Vaughan said.
Construction on all trail projects is expected to be completed in 2014.
Projects slated for 2014 and beyond include the Sand Ridge Bicycle Trail Project, a 1.3 mile long paved trail connecting the existing Burnham Greenway Trail to the Sand Ridge Nature Center, running through South Holland, Lansing and Calumet City. This will stretch from Green Lake Woods northwest to the Sand Ridge Nature Center.
A new connection to the Burnham Greenway Trail through Eggers Woods on Chicago's Southeast Side will also be added in 2014.
A new connection will be built from the trail around 112th Street, east to the Indiana state line, where it will connect to a trail being built there, Vaughan said.