A longtime plan to extend the Forest Preserve District’s Rock Run Greenway Trail south to Route 6 and beyond is coming closer to fruition as the City of Joliet moves forward with its Houbolt/Hollywood Road extension project.
An intergovernmental agreement approved by both the Forest Preserve District’s Board of Commissioners and the City Council will extend the Rock Run Greenway Trail along Hollywood Road while also providing the City of Joliet with the floodwater and stormwater compensation area needed for water displaced by the road project.
“The City of Joliet and the Forest Preserve have always worked well together on trail projects,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve District’s chief operating officer. “Joliet officials recognize the importance and the value of bicycle trails throughout the city. We’re linking open spaces, neighborhoods and other public agencies – including the library, YMCA and Joliet Junior College – with this trail. And it’s a viable transportation alternative for people who bike, walk or run.”
The two governmental entities also have collaborated on the DuPage River Trail and the Joliet Junction Trail. “Time and again we’ve come together to extend and improve the bike trail system in the city, and this is another example of that,” Schultz said.
The Rock Run Greenway Trail travels 11.24 miles south from Crest Hill through Joliet.
The intergovernmental agreement calls for the city to build a 10-foot-wide, 425-foot-long trail extension from Lower Rock Run Preserve’s entrance on Hollywood Road north to the state’s I&M Canal Trailhead. And the city will perform earthwork needed for a future multiuse trail on Forest Preserve property. The new trail segment would stretch approximately 1,000 feet from the preserve entrance south to Route 6.
The city also has plans to build a path from just north of the Interstate 80 ramps (where the paved Rock Run Greenway Trail ends now and switches to sidewalk or road shoulder) south to the I&M Canal Trail as part of a new diverging diamond interchange that will be constructed. This work is not part of the intergovernmental agreement, but it will also enhance the trail corridor by making it safer, Schultz explained.
In exchange for the trail work detailed in the agreement, the Forest Preserve will allow floodwater and stormwater generated by the road project to be released into approximately an acre of Lower Rock Run Preserve. The water compensation plan requires the city to pay for the creation of a 13-acre habitat management unit that will be maintained in perpetuity by the District.
“The water will have a place to go, but the habitat area will be designed in a natural way,” Schultz said. “And we will be able to remove invasive species, plant native species and increase the biodiversity of the preserve as a result.”
Water compensation fees would normally total $197,317. But the Forest Preserve has agreed to waive $50,458 in fees for the trail extension services the city will provide as well as a credit for city water service at District sites, including Hammel Woods Dog Park. The $146,859 in fees that will be collected will be used for the restoration work at Lower Rock Run Preserve.
Joliet’s work on Houbolt/Hollywood Road is all part of the city’s larger collaboration with the state, Will County and CenterPoint Properties to extend Houbolt/Hollywood Road south across the Des Plaines River to Schweitzer Road. According to the city, the project will provide an alternative access to the CenterPoint Joliet and Elwood intermodal facilities. The project also is designed to reduce congestion on local and state routes and to promote public safety.
There are plans to include a path for pedestrians and bicyclists in both the new diverging diamond interchange under I-80 and the bridge across the Des Plaines River, which will give the Forest Preserve an opportunity to extend the Rock Run Greenway Trail south and east to the U.S. Forest Service’s 20,283-acre Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie at some point in the future.