It’s not a 100 percent done deal at this point, but, frankly, we can’t see what could possibly hold back Cook County or the Cook County Forest Preserve District from granting $100,000 toward the construction of the first leg of a bike path that would connect Riverside-Brookfield High School with North Riverside.
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle is said to be on board. The only hold-up appears to be finding exactly from which county fund the money will come. The Cook County budget is $3.2 billion. The forest preserve district has the stated goal of creating a comprehensive, connected bike path system. This $100,000 would go toward that.
And the county would get something in return — a matching $100,000 combined from Riverside, North Riverside and Riverside-Brookfield High School. They should think of it as the county getting a grant to help it implement its bike trail plan. Maybe that will make it easier to identify the funding.
Coupled with a verbal pledge by state Sen. Martin Sandoval to contribute $600,000 to complete the entire First Avenue bike path all the way to 26th Street, it would seem that the county’s $100,000 contribution would be money well spent.
Getting that first leg — from Ridgewood Road to 31st Street — is the key to getting the rest of the funding from the state. Cook Country Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski deserves a ton of credit for getting this proposal to the county president’s desk in an astonishingly brief period of time.
We urge county officials to identify the funding source soon so that the first leg of the First Avenue bike path can get started in 2014. With that kind of momentum, getting the second leg built in 2015 will be that much easier.
The only segment left at that point would be connecting the path with the Salt Creek Trail on 31st Street and with Prairie Avenue. That’ll take another funding push of its own. But the First Avenue path is within reach. Let’s do it.