Schneider’s Passage, a key trailhead for the overlapping Centennial and Veterans Memorial trails in Romeoville, will be improved this year.
The Forest Preserve District’s Board of Commissioners approved a contract in November for expanded parking and the installation of a latrine at the heavily used site north of 135th Street and east of Route 53. The Village of Romeoville is contributing $26,500 for the $241,000 project as part of a previous annexation agreement with the District.
Total parking will expand from six to 30 spaces, and the latrine will replace a port-a-potty at the site. The existing six parking spots will be repaved, and 24 spaces will be installed as parallel parking along the trailhead’s entrance road as it stretches east. A cul-de-sac will be added at the eastern end of the road so cars can turn around.
Construction will start once the ground thaws later this month or in early April. The parallel parking area will be closed during construction for several weeks. Alternate parking will be available at Isle a la Cache Museum, which is located west and south of Schneider’s Passage.
The existing small paved parking area nearest 135th Street at Schneider's Passage will remain open for most of the construction season; however, it too will be closed for several days while paving work is performed.
A sidewalk will be added from the latrine to the trail, and a bench and landscaping will be installed at the trailhead.
Schneider’s Passage was dedicated in 2001, and it was named after Robert F. Schneider (1932-1998), who served on the Forest Preserve Board, the Romeoville village board and as village clerk. He also was involved in Scouting and was an outdoor enthusiast.
When Schneider's Passage opened, Centennial Trail was shorter, said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve’s chief operating officer. So the six parking spots were adequate at that time.
“However, since that time, the Centennial Trail has been extended farther into DuPage and Cook counties, and the northern segment of Veterans Memorial Trail has been constructed linking this access point to the trail systems in Woodridge and DuPage County,” Schultz explained. “So this access area has become much more popular for bicyclists and trail enthusiasts.”
The Centennial/Veterans Memorial trail also connects to the I&M Canal Trail, which heads south from 135th Street to the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site.
As more people began to use the trailhead, they started parking along a driveway that led to a company east of Schneider’s Passage. The Forest Preserve District added gravel to the side of the drive through the years to firm up the shoulders for informal parking.
“But it was never designed for parking,” Schultz said of the access road. “There was a drop off from the edge of the pavement to mud. We filled it in with gravel to maintain the site a little bit better. But with this project, we are dedicating those spaces for parking and building it out so people can park off the drive and have an area to turn around.”
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