Updated: March 27, 2013 6:19AM
Southland motorists and bicyclists are welcoming three projects announced this month that will ease their travels, and likely make them more enjoyable, thanks in large part to Uncle Sam.
They’re a reminder that, despite all the caterwauling and controversy over federal spending, both in and out of Congress, dollars from Washington are usually essential in realizing transportation projects that improve our quality of life.
The feds are providing $4.7 million to complete by late fall the western segment of the Calumet-Sag Bike Trail from Alsip to Lemont ($3.6 million) and to fill in three gaps to finish the Thorn Creek Bike Trail that will run from Lansing to Park Forest ($1.1 million). Local matching funds will cover 20 percent of the projects.
We look forward to the projects, which will provide a major boost to the Southland’s system of recreational trails, creating a truly impressive network. The Cal-Sag project will be nearly 30 miles, linking Burnham on the east and Lemont on the west mostly along the banks of the Calumet-Sag Channel and the Calumet River.
It will also link to the Centennial and Illinois & Michigan Canal trails to the west. Local towns and the Cook County Forest Preserve District are also seeking federal funds to complete the eastern half of the Cal-Sag Trail, from Burnham to Alsip. Connecting the segments of the Thorn Creek Trail, about 4.75 miles, will finish the nearly 13-mile path and tie it to the Old Plank Road and Burnham Greenway trails.
The other project announced recently is extending 191st Street from Harlem to Ridgeland avenues where it becomes Flossmoor Road, creating another major east-west route that would run from Wolf Road to Dixie Highway. Federal money will cover 80 percent of the estimated $5 million cost.
The quarter-mile gap in 191st Street and the ability to link it to an existing road that leads into First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre makes us wonder why this project wasn’t done sooner. But we’re glad it’s planned and thank Uncle Sam for, in these projects, his wise use of our tax dollars.