Winter's longer-than-usual grip on Chicago this year will postpone the opening of the 606, the 2.7-mile park and trail system that's being built atop an old elevated railway spur along Bloomingdale Avenue on the Northwest Side, until June 2015, officials will announce Friday.
The grand opening of what was formerly called the Bloomingdale Trail originally was set for later this year. Construction of the estimated $95 million project began in September, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation. It is about 45 percent complete, officials said.
Bitter-cold temperatures that kept the ground frozen into the spring delayed structural work and relocation of utility lines, said Chicago Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld. Crews also came across unexpected conditions while excavating the 100-year-old unused Canadian Pacific Railway bed, she said.
The combination of issues created a ripple effect on the construction schedule, delaying the pouring of concrete on some sections until late this summer and fall and making it too risky to begin much of the landscaping because of the short period for plants to establish strong roots in soil, officials said.
"There will be more than 250,000 plantings, the bulk of which will be done next spring,'' Scheinfeld said Thursday. "We want to do it right and meet the visions set forth for the community.''
Envisioned as an urban oasis that brings communities together, the park and trail system, which will provide an uninterrupted east-west path on concrete for bicyclists and a softer surface for runners and pedestrians, is named for the 606 ZIP code prefix that all Chicago residents and property owners share.
The trail, a public-private partnership, intersects with 11 CTA bus routes and the Blue Line.
Officials on Friday will also announce that a sixth ground-level park will be built over the next two years to enhance and provide easy access to the commuting and recreational trail connecting four Chicago neighborhoods between Ashland and Ridgeway avenues.
The new park will cover about 4 acres and be adjacent to the western trail head at Ridgeway Avenue in the Logan Square neighborhood. The land, currently occupied by a factory owned by Magid Glove & Safety, a manufacturer of protective equipment for industry, is being purchased for about $3 million by the Trust for Public Land, which is a national land conservation organization. The trust has been hired by the Chicago Park District to manage the 606-related parks.
"Adding over 4 acres of parkland in Logan Square is a huge open-space accomplishment,'' said Beth White, the trust's project manager.
Logan Square is considered "park poor'' because of the lack of park acreage in the community and is second-worst in the city, behind only Brighton Park, city spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.
The next step will be to focus on working with the community on the design of the newly added park to the 606 system, White said. Construction of the park will take up to two years, she said.
The trust will hold a public meeting on the 606 project near the future park site, from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at the McCormick Tribune YMCA, 1834 N. Lawndale Ave., Chicago.