Mayor Lightfoot, Chicago Department of Transportation, and Chicago Park District Cut Ribbon at Reconstructed Irving Park Road Bridge
New under bridge trail completes the 312 RiverRun, a new recreational amenity that links three parks along the North Branch of Chicago River
CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot joined the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Chicago Park District, and several local officials today at the ribbon cutting for the newly reconstructed Irving Park Road Bridge over the North Branch of the Chicago River. The project included construction of an under bridge along the riverbank that provides an off-street, multi-use trail linking California Park to Horner Park and completes 312 RiverRun, a recreational amenity stretching 1.5 miles from Montrose Ave to Belmont Avenue via the Riverview Bridge completed in 2019.
"We are thrilled to celebrate the completion of this transformative project, which not only modernizes one of our city's major bridges but also creates a safe and aesthetically-pleasing connection between California Park and Horner Park," said Mayor Lightfoot. "This is a great example of the kind of infrastructure projects our communities need, as they improve our parks and transportation systems to make it easier for our residents to exercise and enjoy the outdoors."
The 312 RiverRun project extends across 95 acres of park space and will provide residents with access to a network of recreational amenities supported by the Chicago Park District, including: wheelchair-accessible baseball fields, fitness centers, playgrounds, indoor ice-skating rinks, tennis courts, an outdoor pool, boat houses and more. The project was a collaboration between CDOT, the Department of Planning & Development (DPD), and the Chicago Park District and advances the City’s goal of developing a continuous river trail system.
“This project, and all of 312 RiverRun, demonstrate the importance of investing in infrastructure creatively,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “Not only did we replace and improve a major bridge that was more than 100 years old, but we are linking existing recreational spaces in a way that makes it safer and more fun for everyone, no matter their age or ability, to enjoy the outdoors and pursue a healthy lifestyle.”
The project involved the full reconstruction and widening of the Irving Park Road Bridge, which was built in 1914. The road serves as Illinois Route 19 in the City of Chicago and carries an average of 34,500 vehicles a day over the North Branch. The project also created a new pedestrian and bike path under Irving Park Road along the west bank of the North Branch. The underbridge path links California Park and the McFetridge Sports Center to Horner Park to the north. The project was designed by Gannett Fleming and the prime contractor was Granite Construction Company, with construction management services by Omega Associates. As work concludes on the Irving Park Road Bridge, CDOT will begin a resurfacing project, extending east and west of the North Branch.
The Riverview Bridge to the south was completed in 2019 and connects California Park to Clark Park. That pedestrian and bike bridge crosses over the North Branch and under the Addison Road Bridge. Extending more than 1,000 feet in length, the Riverview Bridge is the longest pedestrian river bridge in the city. It has an elevation of more than 18 feet where it crosses the river to accommodate recreational use by boaters.
“The transformational 312 RiverRun project enhances the quality of life of community members with access to recreational amenities that are truly second to none,” Chicago Park District Superintendent & CEO Michael P. Kelly. “In addition to major investments like the Clark Park Boathouse, Kerry Woods Stadium and the McFetridge Sports Center expansion along with riverfront restoration, soccer mini pitches and more, the vision and execution of the 312 RiverRun will forever change the face of the riverfront on the north side for generations to come.”
Completion of the Irving Park Road Bridge project establishes the full 312 RiverRun, providing a continuous off-street path from Belmont Avenue to Montrose Avenue. This improvement eliminates the need for walkers, runners, and bikers to cross Addison Street and Irving Park Road.
The $18.1 million Irving Park Road Bridge project was funded through a combination of local, state, and federal sources including, the Federal Highway Administration through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Illinois Department of Transportation. Other agencies that played a role in the project included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Illinois EPA, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. In addition, there was an agreement between CDOT and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) to lease four parcels of land along the North Branch.
“The 312 RiverRun trail provides a seamless connection for surrounding communities to explore the river and provides a unique new perspective from which to experience the natural beauty of the river corridor,” said Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River. “Recreational connectivity is a core value of our broader vision for a continuously connected blue-green corridor. Our vision is for the entire 156-mile Chicago River system to be valued as an essential natural resource, protected, ecologically healthy, rich with biodiversity, and welcoming and accessible to all.”
The Park District recently restored the riverbank and created a walking trail in Horner Park in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This project not only addressed riverbank erosion but also greatly improved accessibility to all visitors.