Engineering work to begin on 2.4-mile bike trail in south Lansing

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (October 19, 2020) – The Village of Lansing has received a grant to begin engineering work to construct a multi-use path connecting the Pennsy Greenway and the Thorn Creek Trail, linking two popular south suburban trail systems.

The multi-use Lansing trail

The grant was obtained through the Invest in Cook program and will cover the engineering work required to begin the trail creation process. According to the Invest in Cook 2020 program booklet, the path will be 10 feet wide and run 2.4 miles from where the Pennsy Greenway intersects with Wentworth Avenue (at Legion Drive) south to a ComEd easement just north of 190th Place, where it will run west to the Cook County Forest Preserve and then south to connect with the Thorn Creek Trail. The ComEd easement is an area of land cleared for ComEd transmission towers, where there is grass and natural growth. The path will run directly past Nathan Hale Elementary School, according to the Invest in Cook materials, and will link two large trail systems, the Pennsy Greenway, which stretches from Calumet City to Schererville, IN, and the Thorn Creek Trail, which runs from Lansing to Park Forest.

Lansing trail
The proposed Lansing multi-use path will connect the Pennsy Greenway to the Thorn Creek Trail, stretching 2.4 miles. The rendering shown above is not necessarily the final location of the trail, pending an engineering study. (Trail location determined from Invest in Cook 2020 program booklet, image from Google Earth)

Lansing Village Administrator Dan Podgorski said although the parameters of where the new path would be are roughly in place, the engineering work funded by the grant will help nail down all the specifics, taking into account right-of-ways, property ownership, and easement agreements. Details like which side of Wentworth the trail will be on, and where exactly the trail will connect with the Thorn Creek Trail are yet to be determined.

Lansing trail
How the new Lansing path will connect with the Thorn Creek Trail, shown above, is yet to be determined. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Podgorski said construction on the project may still be a couple years away, and is not yet 100% guaranteed. The Village of Lansing will be the agency responsible for the completion of the trail, and will eventually go out to bid for construction estimates on the project, assuming the engineering work goes well.

Lansing trail
The proposed trail will likely extend east/west through the ComEd easement that runs adjacent to Nathan Hale Elementary school, seen at right. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Regional and local significance

Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller came before the Village Board on October 6 and congratulated the Village on the receipt of the grant. She said, “Not only will this path have regional significance, there will also be local benefits to the residents and nearby subdivisions, and students of adjacent schools as well. …This is another great example of how partnership works together, and I’m happy that it’s in our own backyard,” Miller said.

Commissioner Miller’s office said in a later statement, “This project prioritizes transit and other transportation alternatives by linking existing bike trails, and promotes equal access to opportunities for an economically disadvantaged community.”

Donna Miller
Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller appeared before the Village Board on Oct. 6 to congratulate the Village on its receipt of the grant to start engineering work for the project. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Administrator Podgorski said, “We’re always pleased upon hearing our requests for grant funds have been approved, because it means we’ve convinced other agencies and units of government that we have a project worth completing. There are many trail enthusiasts pulling for this spur to be constructed, and the Village has conducted several calls and meetings to restart this process.”

Years in the making

The process needed “restarting” because it was first started by the Lan-Oak Park District, the public body that oversees the parks and recreational facilities in Lansing. According to longtime Lan-Oak Park District Board member Jim Long, the Park Board was responsible years ago for constructing the current stretch of the Pennsy Greenway in Lansing, which connects the path in Calumet City to the path in Munster. When that project was finished, there was thought given to connecting the Pennsy Greenway to the Thorn Creek Trail, but the Park Board decided to use the money elsewhere, according to Long.

“We believe construction grant funds are still available,” said Podgorski, “and that is why we sought to restart the process via the engineering grant request through Invest in Cook.”

“This is great news,” said Lan-Oak Park District Senior Superintendent Sharon Desjardins. “If there is another connection that enhances [the trail], we’re thrilled to have that done for the community. …If it’s an enhancement to it, if it’s something the community will enjoy and benefit from, we’re thrilled to have anyone do it—us [the Lan-Oak Park District], the Village, anyone at all that can.”

There is no timeline currently set for when construction on the trail might start, pending the results of the engineering work.

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