Area bridge still out on bike trail — vandals keep moving barricades
By Mike Danahey email@example.com September 17, 2012 5:16PM
A barrier blocking off a washed out part of the Fox River Trail in Elgin, was vandalized this past weekend, but crews already made repairs. September 17, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 19, 2012 6:12AM
Exactly when renovation of a washed-out bike and foot bridge along the Fox River Trail between Elgin and South Elgin will be repaired remains in limbo — and vandals have been making this a potentially dangerous situation.
“We have put out barricades, cable gates and chains as well as signs at both ends of the trail leading to the bridge,” said Michael Holan, Forest Preserve District of Kane County director of operations.
“All of them have been cut and/or removed and tossed in the creek, field or removed from site by the trail users. We just replaced the barriers this weekend again. At least once per month we replace the barriers. Barriers have been up since the bridge first washed out.”
Holan said vandals have hit the site, just off Raymond Street, at least a dozen times over the last two years. He suspects this is not just a teen prank, not only because of the number of incidents but because someone would need bolt cutters and other equipment to do the damage that has been done.
In late June, The Courier-News reported that long-in-the-works repairs to the washed-out section of the bike/pedestrian path were expected to get under way this construction season and to be finished by the end of the year or next spring, at the very latest.
Monica Meyers, forest district executive director, said at the time: “We’re anxious to get this done, just like everyone else,”
On Monday, Holan said, “At this point we do not know when the work will begin or be completed. It all depends on when we receive permits, which could take a couple of months or more since it involves a waterway. I am hoping we are under construction this coming spring and complete by the beginning of summer.”
Those permits are from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Both agencies now have all of the information they have requested,” said Laurie Metanchuk, forest district director of community affairs and environmental education.
The portion of the Fox River Trail in question is on the east side of the river, not far from a fork in the asphalt where one prong heads south to the Illinois Prairie Path and east to Wheaton, and the one in disrepair leads south to downtown South Elgin and points beyond.
The unusable portion is a small bridge underneath an overpass for railroad tracks that see freight train traffic a couple times a day and is very close to Poplar Creek not far from where it meets the Fox River. It has been washed out since 2008.
The recap of 2011-12 capital projects found online at forestpreserve.countyofkane.org shows that the bridge repair has been on a schedule since September 2009. So far, Western Surveying & Engineering of Geneva has been paid $38,895 out of a total of $358,000 budgeted for the work.
Tom Armstrong, Elgin’s unofficial bicycle ambassador, said a detour ride around the wash-out is south on Raymond Street to Riverview Avenue, then east on Riverview, across the railroad tracks, then back to the trail.
Meyers noted the forest district has been working with various government agencies and others including the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, which owns the land that once held rails; and the Fox River Water Reclamation District, whose facilities are not far from this part of the path.
With the bridge so close to Poplar Creek, it is prone to erosion. The vibration from trains passing overhead also impacts its structural integrity. And original plans for the bridge could not be found, so new ones had to be drawn up to Army Corps specifications.