In 2008, the City applied for and was awarded a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant for the improvement of the existing Des Plaines River Trail through the City of Des Plaines. The existing trail consisted of a gravel/soil path of varying widths and quality. Due to the existing surface, the trail was often overgrown and muddy making it impassable at various locations and times of the year, and therefore making it an unreliable means of transportation.
The completed trail improvement project consisted of improving the surface of the trail with an aggregate base and a 3-inch thick granite screening riding/walking surface. The finished trail is 10 feet wide with 2-foot wide shoulders on each side. As part of the project, the vertical and horizontal alignments of the trail were smoothed and the brush alongside the trail was cleared to improve the safety of the trail. In addition, the safety of the Algonquin and Oakton crossings were improved with additional signage, striping and proposed pedestrian actuated flashing beacons (Oakton).
In addition, a new trail section was constructed along the north side of Ballard Road, between Rand Road and Bender Road. This trail will connect the new Levee 50 trail section (currently terminates at Rand Road) with the Des Plaines River Trail. A final component of the trail improvement project was the addition of new interpretive and wayfinding signage along the trail. The accompanying exhibit (link is above) shows the scope of the improvements.
The proposed trail improvements are part of a greater vision of connecting the City’s downtown and other destinations with an active spine along the Des Plaines River. The Des Plaines River Trail extends approximately 50 miles from River Forest (west of Chicago) north to the Wisconsin border. In turn, the Des Plaines River Trail is part of the greater Grand Illinois Trail which spans all of northern Illinois.
*The Des Plaines River Trail is under the jurisdiction of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC). The City entered into an agreement with the FPDCC to allow the City to improve this segment of the regional trail. With the completion of the improvement project, the FPDCC resumes maintenance responsibility over the trail.