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Forest Park bicyclists and pedestrians will benefit from a new multi-use path along Van Buren Street, a project for which the village will be seeking a grant from Cook County.

If all goes according to plan, next fall Forest Park will have an asphalt path along the west side of Van Buren Street from Madison Street to the parking area/path near the CTA Blue Line Forest Park Transit Center. The project will also connect the existing Illinois Prairie Path to the proposed Desplaines River Trail project.

Mayor Rory Hoskins and commissioners Joe Byrnes, Ryan Nero and Jessica Voogd voted unanimously at a March 9 village council meeting to authorize the application of a grant from the Cook County Department of Transportation in the amount of $432,000 for this project. (Commissioner Dan Novak was not present at the meeting.) The village would supply the additional $108,000 of the $540,000 total project, called the Forest Park Van Buren Street Multi-Use Path Improvement Plan.

The plan involves construction of 1,600 linear feet of a 10-foot-wide asphalt multi-use path along the west side of Van Buren Street to the CTA transit center. According to the project summary, “the curb will be pushed into the roadway to accommodate the width of the path.”

The project has multiple goals and fits into both the village’s comprehensive plan as well as the Active Transportation Plan.

One of the goals, according to the project summary in the grant application, is to “encourage more people to bike and walk to Forest Park’s CTA Blue Line station and continue their trip via public transportation instead of driving to get to the same destinations.”

This is in line with Forest Park’s larger plan “to create multi-modal transportation options through the village.”

The village’s Active Transportation Plan aims to bring improvements that make it “safer and more convenient for people to walk, bike, and use transit in Forest Park.” By eliminating sidewalk gaps along Van Buren, it will be easier for pedestrians and cyclists to travel safely.

In addition to being consistent with the village’s long-term goals, the project also fits into Connecting Cook County, the county’s long-range transportation plan that prioritizes “transit and transportation alternatives.”

Finally, the project supports the county’s goal to provide “equal access to opportunity.” According to the project summary, about 45 percent of Forest Park residents are low to moderate income, and residents in adjacent Maywood are about 60 percent low to moderate income.

Grants will be awarded in July. Design completion is anticipated by April 2, 2021. Bidding for the project would tentatively happen in May 2021, with the start of construction in June and completion of construction in November.

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