Monday, July 16, 2007

Hallelujah!

Today's Chicago Tribune reports that the Cook County Forest Preserve District is repaving the North Branch Trail! I saw last week that the northeasternmost section of the trail was closed for construction, but I didn't know whether it was just a local repair or part of a larger project. My thought at the time was that there are at least a dozen places that need attention more than the segment that was closed, so I am ecstatic that they are resurfacing the whole trail. The article quotes local cyclist Mike Cobb, but his words could have come from my mouth:
...[I]n recent years, potholes have deepened, ruts have widened and tree-root ridges have grown higher. "I know where most of them are, but every once in a while, you find yourself daydreaming and you hit one and 'whack,'" said Cobb, 60, who lives close to the trail's southern end at Caldwell and Devon Avenues in Chicago. "It's such a nice path, and it has so much potential. It just needs to be fixed up."
Parts of the trail are only 1.5 inches thick instead of the roadbed standard of 3 inches.
Cobb's pet peeve is a stretch between Golf and Beckwith Roads, where tree roots protrude several inches, buckling the asphalt.
Mine, too! The narrow trail is sandwiched between a golf course and horse facilities, and the trees are too close to the trail. I always ride slowly and carefully there, though, so it's usually a stray root elsewhere that catches me by surprise.

When I was working on Biking Illinois, I found that most of the major trails in Cook County had been resurfaced recently. I'm glad they are finally doing the longest (and best) trail. From the language in the article, I think they are completely rebuilding the trail, so there shouldn't be dangerously steep edges like when a new layer of asphalt is added.

The bad news, of course, is that mile-long segments of the trail will be closed for the next three months. Sometimes there are viable alternative routes but sometimes not, so riding the North Branch Trail will be a bit of a crapshoot this summer.

Now if only they would shorten the wait at that Touhy Avenue stoplight...

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