Friends' Vision for a Continuous River Trail Closer
Friends of the Chicago River joined Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and other city officials at a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the completion of the 312 RiverRun, an important advancement in river-corridor connections that are needed across all along the river so that all communities have access to the river as a recreational and natural asset and wildlife can travel. The ceremony also marked the opening of the newly reconstructed $18.1 million Irving Park Road Bridge spanning the North Branch of the Chicago River.
The 312 RiverRun is a multi-use trail that extends across 95 acres of park space linking California Park to Horner Park and provides residents with access to a network of recreational amenities including: boat houses, wheelchair accessible baseball fields, fitness centers, playgrounds, indoor ice skating rinks, tennis courts, an outdoor pool, and more.
"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 trail also extends further south under Addison Street via the Riverview Bridge completed in 2019.
“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.”
Friends began advocating for river access when we were founded in 1979 and we secured the first river protection ordinanance in 1983.
The Irving Park Road Bridge carries an average of 34,500 vehicles a day over the North Branch. Completion of the bridge creates 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. The Riverview Bridge to the south connects California Park to Clark Park.
Completion of the Irving Park Road Bridge and the 312RiverRun provides a continuous off-street path from Belmont Avenue to Montrose Avenue, eliminating the need for walkers, runners and bikers to cross Addison Street and Irving Park Road.