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Decades of research shows that expanding roads doesn’t provide lasting congestion relief. More lanes means more traffic.

A successful campaign to replace a dangerous bridge in Lake Bluff

State Sen. Julie Morrison and Lake Bluff scored a major win in their quest to improve walking and bicycling safety and connectivity in the village.

The senator for the 29th District and village officials successfully pushed for the upcoming Illinois budget to include $1.25 million for a new pedestrian bridge between North Chicago and Lake Bluff on Green Bay Road (Illinois route 131).

Morrison led the funding effort after local residents in this north suburban community voiced their concerns about the existing bridge’s lack of safety. It does not have any sidewalks, which forces people walking and biking — including students from Lake Bluff Elementary School — to traverse in the road as cars whiz by them at 40 mph. About 9,500 motorists drive on the bridge daily.

SAFETY FIRST

“Safety of the community is — and always has been — my top priority,” Morrison says. “We must do all we can to make Lake Bluff safer, and that starts with ensuring people can travel safely through the area.”

The existing bridge also limits walking and biking access by separating Lake Bluff and nearby Lake Bluff Elementary School from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and 50 houses within Lake Bluff School District 65. In addition, the bridge is a barrier for the residents of the civilian and military housing at Forrestal Village (serving the Great Lakes Naval Station) as well as 200 apartments.

“I was one of the people at Rosalind Franklin University many years ago,” says Village President Regis Charlot. “The thought of walking from the university to downtown Lake Bluff was daunting, if not life threatening. Investments like this from Springfield bring diverse partners together and make opportunities for our communities.”

STRONG CONNECTIONS

Susan Boyle speaking Julie MorrisonIn addition to improving walking and bicycling safety for students and others in the immediate area, the new pedestrian bridge will enhance walking and cycling connectivity to the greater Lake Bluff community — advancing the village’s Complete Streets policy, which seeks to build walking and biking infrastructure that supports healthy lifestyles, recreation, safety, and Lake Bluff’s sustainability goals. For example, the new bridge will be designed to allow residents to walk and bike safely to Lake Bluff’s downtown and Metra station.

The bridge will also build upon a regional network of trail systems.

To the north, the 2020 Lakeshore Trail Connectivity Plan includes dedicated trail facilities on Green Bay Road through North Chicago up to the bridge.

One goal of the plan is to improve connectivity throughout five northern Lake County communities and Illinois Beach State Park. In Lake Bluff, the North Shore, Skokie Valley, and Robert McClory Trails connect to other destinations throughout Lake County and elsewhere in Illinois and Wisconsin.

“I am extremely grateful to Sen. Morrison and her team who have worked exceptionally hard in collaboration with the Village of Lake Bluff to garner funding to complete this project,” says Sandy Hart, chair of the Lake County Board. “The pedestrian bridge will solve very real safety issues not only for students going back and forth to school, but also for walkers and bicyclists. It will increase safe access for residents and visitors to the community to enjoy nature and take part in living a healthier lifestyle.”

 

Top photo: Local officials successfully campaigned for Illinois to earmark $1.25 million in the state budget in the upcoming fiscal year for a new pedestrian bridge in Lake Bluff, Ill. From left: Lake Bluff School District 65 Superintendent Lisa Leali, Lake Bluff Village President Regis Charlot, local parent Susan Boyle, Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest), Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart, and Lake Bluff Village Administrator Drew Irvin.

Bottom photo: Local parent Susan Boyle describes to Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) how her child has to walk to school across a highway bridge with no sidewalks in Lake Bluff, Ill. The new pedestrian bridge will provide a safe place for students to walk to school.

Photos courtesy of the Village of Lake Bluff.