Trails are a new priority for Cook County transportation

Major Taylor Trail bridge over the Calumet River in Riverdale

Major Taylor Trail bridge over the Calumet River in Riverdale

On page 70 of the just-released first volume of the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways (DOTH) Long-Range Transportation Plan:

"DOTH will play a leadership role in developing, designing, and financing expanded construction of trail systems."

...and on page 78:

The County will play a leading role in the development of regional and sub-regional trail and path plans with councils of government and municipalities that address existing gaps and promote more walk and bicycle trips.

Trails for Illinois is a sub-consultant to the global planning and engineering firm AECOM who is developing the Cook County plan. I help out primarily with trail and bikeway issues and have been pleasantly surprised at the County's openness to be more involved in connecting and improving the region's trail network.

Still, those declarations in a public document just blow me away. It's nothing less than a coming-out cry for (what is about to become) a 21st Century transportation agency, ready to assume the responsibilities and embrace the challenges of moving goods and people beyond a few miles of disconnected county highway segments.

It's really a Triple Bottom Line document—an acknowledgement that transportation has enormous influence on the environment, the economy, the quality of life in Cook County, and projects and spending must strive to improve each.

Some good stories in the news today about it:

The first volume is like an existing conditions, vision and policies document. The second volume will be more projects based, and there's some good stuff in it.

I live in Cook County's south suburbs as well as get to work on a small part of this ginormous plan; it feels good to feel good about something in Illinois right now.