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Alsip's Pipe Dream
Yesterday we had a fantastic public turnout for our Alsip Park District Bike Plan Input meeting at the Apollo Recreation Center. Included amongst 40+ participants were park district director Jeanette Huber and many enthusiastic Alsip Park District Board of Directors including President Jerri-Lynn Kleiner and Kathy Perretta; Village of Alsip Mayor Patrick Kitching; and Active Trans Board Member Jane Healey.
To develop a base network for our bike plans, we have participants draw their routes, destinations and barriers on big maps with colored markers [the mayor got his own special color]. Lots of people use routes through Alsip’s cemeteries, and a refreshingly large number of residents talked about their current bike trips to restaurants, neighboring communities, friends’ houses, and better yet, to bars. Almost everyone had concerns about riding on and crossing both 127th St. and Cicero Ave. – no big surprise there. They told us that the east and west sides of Alsip don’t connect thanks to the difficulties crossing Cicero Avenue, a problem that dates back as far as some of the lifelong residents can remember.
Mayor Kitching articulated his vision of connecting the Alsip Park District’s multi-use, paved trail to the path through Oak Lawn’s Wolfe Wildlife Refuge, and to the future Calumet-Sag Trail. To get across Cicero, he wants to go under it: he sees driving a 12’ diameter, prefabricated steel pipe into an available bridge embankment, like sticking a drinking straw horizontally into a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Dig out the dirt from the center, and Presto! Instant bike tunnel!
While I haven’t ever seen such a thing, Vince Cullen, Alsip’s public works director, said that it’s very viable, very durable, very fast & inexpensive, plus it doesn’t disturb the road above – Vince said he wouldn’t even have to stop traffic. Compared to what it takes to build a box culvert under a big road – which is the old school way – Alsip’s pipe dream could become a totally tubular solution for suburban towns trapped inside expressways and rail lines.
By Steve Buchtel and Katie Tully
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