Chicago is about to get a bit more green. More green space that is. The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel announced an investment of $290 million over the next five years to be spent on adding city parks, green spaces and recreational areas to the Windy City. Under the plan, Emanuel is promising that “nearly every Chicago resident” will see evidence of the improvements within a 10-minute walk from home.
One of the highlights of the new projects is the Bloomingdale Trail, a 2.65-mile trial built along the elevated train line on Chicago’s northwest side. The trail is expected to be the world’s longest elevated trail, not to mention a tourist draw. The currently unused rail tracks will be transformed into a greenway with a bike and walking trail. The trail will also connect with bike lanes that feed into the Loop, Chicago’s commercial core. Along with creating a recreation space, the trail is also expect to be heavily used by commuters. Construction of the trail will begin later this year with completion slated for fall 2014.
The city said that final engineering and design work for the trail was getting a boost from some private donations, including $5 million from Exelon, and $1 million each from CNA and Boeing, which made the first donation.
“Parks, trails and green spaces play an important role in building communities and the quality of life of all residents of Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said in a statement. “By building new parks and upgrading facilities, we do more than provide children with playgrounds or bicyclists with paths, we strengthen our neighborhoods.”
Projects include the addition of parks, playgrounds and energy-efficient recreation centers. The plan calls for 20 new playgrounds, 8 new artificial turf fields and 100 new basketball courts. In 2013, two new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited field houses are expected to be built. But it’s not all playtime: the plan is also expected to create much-needed jobs for the area. About 1,200 construction jobs are expected to be created to carry out the plan, the city said.