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New bike/ped trail connection will simplify travel between Joliet and Lemont

A bicycle-pedestrian trail connection from the 3.26-mile Centennial Trail to an 11-mile stretch of the I&M Canal Trail began construction on June 12.

Rendering of the new trail.

A bicycle-pedestrian trail connection from the 3.26-mile Centennial Trail to an 11-mile stretch of the I&M Canal Trail began construction on June 12. It will eventually create an easier 15-mile route between Lemont and Joliet in the southwest suburbs, passing under the 135th Street bridge along Romeoville Road. The work is slated for completion this fall.

Announced in November, the project is funded by a $450K+ grant from Citgo Petroleum Corporation, which has a refinery along the route, in partnership with the village of Romeoville, the city of Lockport, and the Will County Forest Preserve. The project will include a path leading to the Romeoville Metra station, improved directional signage, a bike repair station, an information kiosk, benches, a mural under the bridge, and other public art.

The trail connection, located on Romeo Road, will help ease bike travel between Joliet, Lockport, Romeoville and Lemont. Image: Google Docs

"This is truly a regional project, and we are happy to be sharing this event with the many partners on this project," said Romeoville mayor John Noak in a statement. "This is a beautiful area, and we hope the revamped trail connection will showcase it to even more people."

Along with Noak, Lockport mayor Steven Streit, forest preserve executive director Ralph Schultz, and Jim Cristman, VP and general manager of CITGO's Lemont Refinery, spoke at the trail's groundbreaking ceremony on the 12th. You can watch a video of the event here.

Locations of trailheads, refinery, and direction towards Romeoville Metra station from the master plan.

"I think it's really important for our region to connect Joliet, Lockport, Romeoville and Lemont," stated Streit. "It's such a great connection with the I&M Canal Trail, and one of the confusing points on the trail has been this very spot. I've actually seen people come down here and do circles and ask, 'Do you know where the trail picks up?'"

According to the December 2021 I&M - Centennial Trail Bike Path Connection Master Plan, the project has its roots in another bicycle master plan that Lockport adopted about two years earlier. The purpose of that plan was to create "a guide for the planning, prioritization, and implementation of biking and pedestrian trails that link schools, commercial areas and other community destinations." That included a bike trail that would connect to Lemont, Lockport, Romeoville, and Joliet.

The trail connection will help bicyclists and pedestrians safely cross the I&M Canal at Romeo Road.

Currently the I&M Canal Trail runs north from Joliet through Lockport, connecting with Romeoville via Romeo Road. CITGO Petroleum Corporation is located east of the canal and north of Romeo Road. The Centennial Trail is located on the west side of the canal north of the road, and leads to Lemont, where it connects to the Veterans Memorial Trail. 

"With CITGO's assistance, this new addition helps to expand the bicycle and pedestrian network we've all been working toward," forest preserve board president Meta Mueller stated. "We look forward to the completion of this project and to future partnerships that will allow even more trail connections within our communities." 

Read more about the project in its master plan.

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