Northwest Highway (US Route 14) currently passes underneath a timber railroad bridge, built in the 1930’s, that carries the crossing of two major rail lines – the Union Pacific (UP) rail line and the Wisconsin Central (WC) rail line. As a result of the curvature of the roadway as it passes underneath the bridge, along with reduced lanes and minimal shoulder space, safe pedestrian and bicycle travel through the crossing currently is not feasible. However, due to a lack of convenient alternative routes and high bicycle and pedestrian demand through the corridor, bicycles have been observed through the underpass and pedestrians have reportedly trespassed along/across the tracks in order to traverse the area.
The City of Des Plaines is leading an effort address this long-standing regional barrier with the construction of a bicycle-pedestrian underpass. The underpass proposal was the preferred alternative emerging from a formal Feasibility Study completed in February of 2017.
This proposed underpass would provide safe local access for pedestrian and bicycle travel between downtown Des Plaines and areas west. At the same time the project will remove a significant barrier in the envisioned 20-mile Northwest Highway Regional Bicycle Corridor connecting six suburban transit-oriented downtown districts with the greater City of Chicago bike network.
In February of 2017, the Des Plaines City Council approved a contract with V3 Engineering for Phase I engineering of the underpass project. Completion of Phase I engineering will allow the City to apply for grant funding to help advance the project to construction.