November 8, 2022
Epstein was awarded by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to prepare the Northern Lakeshore Trail Connectivity Plan. The objective of the project was to improve walking, bicycling, and access to transit between and among the five northern lakeshore communities of Winthrop Harbor, Zion, Beach Park, Waukegan, and North Chicago along Lake Michigan. These five communities worked to improve connections between commuter rail stations and Illinois Beach State Park, a key regional destination managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The project included network planning, conceptual plan and design guidelines, cost estimates, stakeholder engagement, and an implementation strategy to include key stakeholders such as residents, economic development agencies, and departments of transportation.
The communities of Beach Park, North Chicago, Waukegan, Winthrop Harbor, and Zion have a strong base of walking and biking amenities, active Metra ridership, robust sidewalk network; and pedestrian-friendly, downtown commercial and business districts. These municipalities are also well on their way to leading the Chicagoland area in bicycle and pedestrian-welcoming destinations for residents and visitors.
With the support of CMAP, these municipalities engaged in a planning process that involved residents, businesses, trail users, and other stakeholders in working towards safer, greener, healthier, connected, and vibrant communities. Ultimately, the process resulted in a connectivity plan that capitalizes on the resources of the area and provides an experience that is unique to the northern lakeshore.
The goals of the process were to ensure that these communities are safe, healthy and connected. This is achieved by providing bike and pedestrian routes to move people with a strong sense of security along their entire route, whether commuting or recreating. The communities now have the benefit of healthy and affordable transportation options, connecting residents and visitors of all incomes, ages and abilities. Connecting bike and pedestrian routes of all five municipalities to the many natural resources and parks the communities have to offer provides a connection to community and nature, and also encourages protection of their environmental and people-oriented resources. By creating a welcoming environment, residents and visitors are encouraged to spend more time in these communities, promoting a vibrant culture and attractive culture.