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Make the Park Near the Cumberland Blue Line Station More Accessible

River Grove, IL
Make the Park Near the Cumberland Blue Line Station More Accessible

I chose the Cumberland Blue Line Station area as my site to improve. The Blue Line Station is massive; there are 1600 parking spaces available, and it is near O’Hare International Airport. It’s also near the Des Plaines River, which winds through a large park area with bike and walking paths.
The issue is that there is this gigantic green space so near to the station that provides a great way for city-dwellers to be in nature while not straying far from home, and there is no easy way to get to it. The Blue Line Station is on the Kennedy Expressway, and while it is only a mile’s walk from the train stop to the park area, Google Maps estimates that the walk would take nearly an hour, due to the lack of pedestrian access. Another issue is that it is in such a commercial area, it is not widely known.

To remedy this issue, I would propose two major solutions. The first is to provide signage and recognition of the park at the Cumberland stop. Its parking lot can accommodate a huge crowd, and there is the extra benefit of CTA travellers stopping there. Proper signage and recognition would tempt many to visit the nearby park; whether they come by car or by train, it is a wonderfully convenient spot near to the green space and the river. However, while this would make them acknowledge and perhaps want to visit the park, there is no easy way to get there. This is where the next step comes in – a pedestrian walkway along the highway that leads to the park, and could maybe connect to a pedestrian bridge above N East River Road, the street that divides the park and the station. This walkway could connect to previously built walking or biking paths in the preserved area. Obviously, since it is so near to the highway, safety would need to come into play in this situation, and since I have not actually visited the site, I’m not sure where the safest place to build the walkway would be, or how best to protect the pedestrians. This walkway would provide travellers with a simple, streamlined way of getting to the park, rather than having to navigate through back roads and unknown areas. Since it is along the Kennedy, the CDOT would have to be involved, and, since many businesses are located along that stretch, they may have to approve it as well.

Putting this into action would be a difficult thing to do, but it would pay off. The plan would likely begin with spreading awareness of the area, both at the Blue Line station and in the commercial area surrounding it. Once the city was convinced that enough people would be interested in visiting, then the process of creating a simplified way of travel would likely come up. I’m not sure if they would choose a version of the solution I have created, or another completely different one, or if it would even take enough priority to get built. However, the appeal of attracting people to the river and being able to utilise Chicago’s resources would likely be a convincing factor in the debate.

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