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The 130th Street sidepath, connecting the new Red Line station and Major Taylor Trail, is moving ahead

CDOT says the project will be entering its preliminary design phase soon, although it may be a while before it's ready to ride.

130th Street and the sign for long-closed Rosebud Farm Stand. Photo: Cameron Bolton

This post is sponsored by Keating Law Offices.

For the last decade residents of the Riverdale community area on Chicago's Far South Side have been lobbying the city to build a safe route for people walking and biking along highway-like130th Street. Now the Chicago Department of Transportation tells us a bike-pedestrian sidepath is finally going to be built on 130th.

"CDOT is committed to enhancing connectivity for people walking and biking around Lake Calumet, as demonstrated through our partnership with Cook County on the Lake Calumet Bike Network Study and involvement in the Riverdale Multimodal Transportation Plan," transportation department spokesperson Erica Schroeder told Streetsblog today. "The 130th Street sidepath project is a key part of these efforts to create a more walkable and bike-friendly community."   

Schroeder added that CDOT will soon start the Phase I preliminary engineering for the project, which includes a feasibility and environmental study, establishing a preferred alternative, public engagement, project cost estimates, and various agency approvals. This will be followed by Phase II final design engineering, and then Phase III construction. She noted that the project will require coordinating with the Illinois Department of Transportation because 130th is under state jurisdiction. 

Deloris Lucas. Photo: Provided

Deloris Lucas, a longtime resident of Riverdale's Golden Gate enclave, founder of We Keep You Rollin’ Bike & Wellness Group, and a passionate advocate for better walk/bike/transit options for Riverdale, has long been been leading the advocacy campaign for the sidepath. It's even more important now that the CTA is likely to win federal funding to extend the Red Line to 130th near the Algeld Gardens housing project in Riverdale.

Lucas said the Riverdale transportation plan created by the CDOT and the Chicago Metropolitan Planning Council and approved in January 2019, has been a game-changer for making the sidepath happen. "We, the community, were blessed to get a study done on us. The plan has a lot of recommendations to make our community safer and to connect us to the rest of the city. That 130th Street sidepath came from a recommendation from the multimodal transportation plan.”

Lucas was part of the plan's steering committee and led bike rides to promote the study, engaging with community members by asking and answering questions. She had previously served as a member of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council, which was recently replaced with the quarterly Chicago Mobility Collaborative meetings.

The preliminary route of the sidepath. Image: CDOT

The proposal for the sidepath has the route connect Ellis Avenue, near the future Red Line terminal, and the Major Taylor Trail on the Far Southwest Side. Lucas noted that would make the trail, which runs between Whistler Woods and 87th Street, a more popular destination for Southeast Siders.

Friends of the Major Taylor Trail secretary and treasurer Anne Alt told Streetsblog that she and vice president Peter Taylor were also urging CDOT to create a safe connection between the trail and the Riverdale community area ten years ago. She said they were thrilled to hear that the sidepath is going to happen.

"We wanted to see the Major Taylor Trail become more accessible to adjacent communities," Alt said. “We like to encourage use by all types of non-motor vehicle people: walking, biking, and jogging. And little by little more people are becoming familiar with the trail and using it whether it's for exercise, for visiting people, for going shopping. Because some people do use the trail for access to grocery stores, Walgreens, and other places that are important shopping destinations that are in short supply in Far South Side neighborhoods.”

The 130th Street sidepath will make easier to bike between the Riverdale comunity area, which includes Altgeld Garden and Eden Green, and other parts of the Far South Side. Image: Google Maps

"If you look at 130th Street itself, there's no sidewalk, and if you're trying to bike there's really no space on the street," said Alex Perez, advocacy manager for the Active Transportation Alliance, which also advocated for the sidepath. "It kind of looks like a highway and acts as a highway... A sidepath would make it a lot easier and safer for people to not just be on it, but also access the [Riverdale] Metra Electric Station or get to West Pullman."

While CDOT's Erica Schroeder said the project will soon be in the preliminary engineering phase, she acknowledged that it may be years before the sidepath is ready to ride. Lucas said she wishes the pace of the project was faster, but she's still looking forward to seeing her dream eventually become a reality.

In closing, Lucas asked Streetsblog to highlight the legacy of Joyce Chapman, the president of the Far South Chicago Coalition who recently passed away. Lucas also praised Chapman for working on many important community building projects in Riverdale, particularly in Altgeld Gardens. "Joyce basically supported anything positive coming to our area."

Lucas credited Chapman with supporting a new grocery store slated for 130th and Eberhart Avenue in Golden Gate. She noted that the sidepath on 130th will make it much safer and easier to access the store for Far South Side residents who don't drive.

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