Western Springs catwalk to be reconstructed

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Western Springs catwalk to be reconstructed

The catwalk is currently located at Western Avenue and Maple Street and spans I-294 (Sullivan/LION).

The catwalk is currently located at Western Avenue and Maple Street and spans I-294 (Sullivan/LION).

The catwalk is currently located at Western Avenue and Maple Street and spans I-294 (Sullivan/LION).

The catwalk is currently located at Western Avenue and Maple Street and spans I-294 (Sullivan/LION).

Lillie George, Reporter

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Because it fails to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines, the existing pedestrian bridge over Tollway I-294 known as the “catwalk” will be torn down, reconstructed and possibly relocated. This change threatens to affect the routines of many people, including the LT girls cross country team.

“The catwalk is used frequently [by the team] to cross between Western Springs and Hinsdale, and it definitely is the girls’ favorite routes,” cross country coach Callie Pogge said. “By [moving] the bridge, it would prevent the girls from running more than a four mile workout, so anyone running more than four miles would no longer be able to use the route they prefer.”

The current bridge on Maple Avenue extends over I-294 to connect Western Springs and Hinsdale neighborhoods. It serves as a helpful route for many residents of the two communities. However, the bridge fails to accommodate those with physical disabilities, Western Springs Director of Municipal Services Matthew Supert said.

The ADA is responsible for ensuring man-made environments that are accessible for people with disabilities. Their standards establish design requirements for construction of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities.

“The ramps approaching the bridge are too steep,” Supert said. “Intermediate landings are also required at fixed intervals in order to allow wheelchair users to rest.”

A presentation by the Illinois Tollway was held at a Western Springs Village Board Meeting on Oct. 14 to discuss plans for the new bridge, Supert said. Before construction begins, the villages of Western Springs and Hinsdale must first agree upon a location based on the desires of residents and the potential impacts of the new bridge designs. These designs would require more access ramps and proper surroundings to do so.

If the Villages and Illinois Tollway agree to change the catwalk’s location, a new bridge would be constructed on 47th street to connect Veeck and Spring Rock parks.

“The Tollway has been very cooperative in stating that they will build a new bridge at the location of our choosing,” Supert said.

Taking into consideration its residents’ opinions, Western Springs issued an online public survey which was open during October soliciting feedback on the two proposed locations for the bridge, Supert said. Residents were also invited to attend a public meeting on Oct. 7 concerning plans for the bridge.

The LT cross country coaches took this opportunity into account and sent an email to parents and runners, asking them to fill out the village survey, Pogge said. They were asked how frequently they use the catwalk and whether they prefer it to remain in the original location or be moved.

“I think it’s important that the Village listens to everyone involved,” Pogge said. “I know a lot of people use the path to walk to work or the train station or as part of their workout, so I’m glad [the Village] is opening up the decision [about the new bridge’s location] to the community.”

Runners including Kiley Durkin ‘20 filled out the survey expressing their hopes for the bridge to remain in its current location, she said, and for an additional bridge to be built rather than tearing down and replacing the existing one.
“I know that relocation will prove to be an inconvenience for the team because it is one of the main routes we take to run each week,” Durkin said. “It was smart of the coaches to send us an email with the survey in order for the team to be aware of the potential plans to relocate the bridge and allow us the chance to vote against it.”

Removal of the Maple Avenue bridge will occur some time in 2020, Supert said. However, an exact date has not yet been established.