Why Trails Offer More Than Recreational Benefits

Trail construction projects underscore the different benefits the off-road paths bring to urban communities.

What Happened?
In Chicago, the construction has begun on a new trail that will link different suburbs surrounding the city. The launch of what will be the largest off-road trail in the Midwest underscores the different benefits of paths bring to urban communities.

Goal
Trails for Illinois planned the Cal-Sag Trail project just outside of Chicago that will span 26.06 miles from Lemont to Burnham Greenway to the Indiana border. The path will not only provide pedestrians and cyclists with a new route to explore, but also create a connector between disparate and unique communities bordering Chicago. The trail will pass through a combination of localities including:

  • Affluent neighborhoods
  • White bedroom communities
  • Post-industrial sites
  • Middle class residential neighborhoods
  • Sites of past gentrification projects

To support the 26-mile trail, the organization is leveraging federal grants and private funds. About 80 percent of the estimated $21 million construction costs will be covered by federal grants – most stemming from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program which supports alternative transit options.

The Cal-Sag trail is expected to build off an extensive public transit system within the city of Chicago and out into its surrounding suburbs. Public transit hubs lie along the trial’s route, enable riders to access the trail or other destinations seamlessly. The trail will encourage riders to navigate historically industrial regions around the city via environmentally-friendly options to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion, CityLab reported.

Tax for Trails
The city of Portage, Wisconsin, is considering creating new 65 miles of bike and walking paths throughout the community to increase health and wellness of residents and improve air quality. To fund the extensive $4 million trails project, the mayor has proposed implementing a new trail tax district that would cost a homeowner with a $150,000 home roughly $132 annually, Channel 3000 reported.

The 65-mile project would not only increase navigation options throughout Portage, but also connect to other existing trails nearby. The route of the trail will strategically pass by popular destinations and businesses which would benefit from the increased foot traffic. Furthermore, the trail will make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to access other green spaces such as lakes and forests, Channel 3000 reported.

Miles for Mountain Bikes
Just east of Cedar City, Utah, about 100 miles of mountain biking trails will be rolled out in response to increased public demand. Residents in the region started to navigate off-road paths in the targeted area before any trails were created in an effort to enjoy the outdoors and bike on challenging terrain. This obvious desire for more trails inspired the Cedar City Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management to create 100 miles of public mountain biking trails that can be used for:

  • Recreation
  • Alternative navigation
  • Connecting cities

The trails will be designed with mountain bikers in mind and offer varying levels of difficulty and obstacles.

Trailblazing
EfficientGov has followed several trails projects across the country that improve residential wellness and reduce air pollution.

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