Cities around the world are making decisions on what to do with aging infrastructure from the Industrial Era. That’s a question that New York had to answer regarding it’s old High Line elevated rail line. The result was the first elevated park of its kind. The High Line has been the pioneer for similar projects around the world, like Scotland’s Leith Walk Regeneration and Chicago’s own Bloomingdale Trail.
Chicago has been call one of the greenest cities in the United States and residents have been able to enjoy it’s numerous green landscapes, such as Millennium Park. The Bloomingdale Trail is an ambitious undertaking to continue this tradition with a very different kind of park. New York’s High Line is regarded primarily as a high-end tourist destination while the Bloomingdale Trail is intended to be a normal part of resident’s daily lives.
Communities and groups from throughout the city have been involved in the planning, partially adding to the cost and length of the project. Some of the groups are Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Friends of the Bloomingdale, the Chicago Park District, the Trust for Public Land, the Chicago Department of Transportation and the City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development. Community resident’s also have had voice in development at local public meetings. They’ve expressed concerns about the amount of traffic on the trail and public safety. The trail is being designed to have more lighting and a much higher traffic capacity than similar locations in other metropolitan areas. Organizers of the project believe that is essential for community members to feel invested in the park for it to be a long-term success.
It is estimated that the entire project will cost $91 million. So far, $46 million has been raised, of which $36 comes from the federal money and the US Department of Transportation, $2 million from the Chicago Parks Department and $7 million from private funders, with more of the latter to come.
When the Bloomingdale Trail is completed, it will add acres of new park space to Chicago and connect adjoining neighborhoods. The park will be a source of pride for the hundred of people and organizations involved in its creation, as well as the city itself. The Bloomingdale Trail is expected to soft launch in 2014.