Chicago Defender: Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) Vice President Barbara McGowan joined Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, city officials and partners to unveil the new Irving Park Road Bridge and underpass to link a final segment connecting the 312 RiverRun trail along the North Branch of the Chicago River. The 312 RiverRun provides a recreational amenity that connects three parks along the river for nearly two miles from Montrose to Belmont avenues via the Riverview Bridge that was completed in 2019.
“The Chicago River has long been considered Chicago’s backyard, while Lake Michigan has always the front yard. With this new trail and improvements to our water quality in the river, I would say this is an impressive backyard,” said Vice President McGowan. “We thank Mayor Lightfoot, Alderman Martin, the Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Park District, Friends of the Chicago River and CMAP for their vision and our commissioners and staff at the MWRD for their hard work to protect our waterways and make this land available for all.”
The MWRD prides itself on developing meaningful land use opportunities that promote the agency’s mission as a responsive neighbor to protect the health and safety of the public, improve regional water quality, mitigate flooding and manage water as a vital resource. The MWRD leases large parcels of land to park districts, municipalities, and forest preserve districts for a nominal fee to enhance public access to waterways, develop parks, hiking and bicycle trails, and passive recreational use along the waterways, including the 312 RiverRun, Cal-Sag Trail and Centennial Trail near Willow Springs.
“In total, the MWRD makes more than 8,000 acres of land available for recreation and green space,” said Vice President McGowan. “Demand for waterway access would not happen if not for the MWRD’s work to improve area water quality.”
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 on additional land made available by the MWRD, and recently restored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chicago Park District.
“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 $18.1 million Irving Park Road Bridge project was also the result of increasing demand for access and clean water, thanks in part to the MWRD’s partners at Friends of the Chicago River.