Chicago is set to be the next U.S. city to park-ify on one of its abandoned rail-lines. First proposed back in 1997, the 2.7 mile, 13-acre Bloomingdale Trail and Park is proposed for a stretch of abandoned railway trestle dating from 1910, which has been lying unused since the turn of the century. And, even though it is already being compared to New-York’s High Line, the planners are adamant that the park will be an entirely different animal to its New York cousin.
Read more about Chicago’s unique proposal after the break…
Where the High Line is an art-trail of sorts, the Bloomingdale Trail and Park will primarily be a green transport artery, connecting the neighborhoods of Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Humboldt Park, while also joining the blue branch of the ‘L’ line with two Metra commuter rail lines. Boosting its credentials as a piece of infrastructure, it will have both a pedestrian path and a separate bicycle track, unlike the High Line where cycling isn’t permitted. The finished route will link the communities to six ‘anchor parks’ where the access points will be located. The latest of these was purchased by the city last month.
The High Line was created and shaped by a relatively small group of backers, while the Bloomingdale trail has been a broadly community-driven affair, with no private capital. Instead, because it will act as transport route, it is eligible for $39 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement funds, making a dent in the projected $91 million cost of construction, all of which has yet to be sourced.
The design process for the trail is nearing completion and last month the Mayor’s office confirmed that initial groundbreaking will happen in late spring or summer of this year, with completion scheduled for late 2014. If the trail proves to be a success, the city’s next step will be to extend it eastwards across the Chicago River and Kennedy Expressway, connecting it to chic lakefront neighborhoods and into a larger network of walking trails.
Chicago is far from the only city to toy with the idea converting unused rail-lines into something a bit more fun and socially useful. Following on from the huge success of the High Line, cities worldwide have been coming up with unique, and in one instance LEGO-related, proposals.