by Eric Peterson, Daily Herald
An array of local, county and state officials -- as well as a healthy number of area bicyclists -- were on hand Tuesday for Schaumburg's dedication of a $4.6 million bike path bridge at Roselle and Central roads, of which the village paid for 24%.
Terry Witt, director of advocacy for Spin Doctor Cyclewerks in Bartlett, was among those who spoke of the importance of the bridge from a bicyclist's perspective.
"This is another route over I-90," he said. "In the suburbs, you've got barriers. Every time you can cross a barrier, it's a victory."
While Witt is no stranger to riding his bike along Roselle Road between Central and Algonquin roads, a majority of people feel safer sticking to the Cook County Forest Preserve's bike path to which the new bridge connects. From now on, he'll be one of them.
"My rule is if they build it, I'm going to ride it," Witt said of the bridge. "It's my way of saying thank you. If you want to get from A to B, you want to take the safest, most secure way."
Mike Swier of Streamwood said he's not as big an advocate of cold weather bicycling as Witt, but the bridge will make a big difference in the 10½-mile round trip he often takes between home and his job as a network specialist at Harper College in Palatine. He considers it one of the best gaps to fill amid the bike paths he uses.
"I'd say this is a big one," Swier said. "I see this as a big conduit."
Schaumburg Transportation Director Karyn Robles said the village also recognizes the value of the bridge. It was recent improvements of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway and the availability of federal funding that allowed the idea to move forward.
After Schaumburg paid $130,000 for the preliminary project design, the village and federal funding evenly split the $300,000 cost of project plans and contract documents, officials said.
Federal money paid for 80% of both the $3.9 million construction cost and $352,927 construction engineering cost, with the village picking up the remaining 20% of each.
With the completion of the bridge, bicyclists now have a 1.2-mile stretch of path not requiring a road crossing between Hillcrest Boulevard in Schaumburg and Algonquin Road in Palatine, Robles said.
In his dedication speech, Schaumburg Mayor Tom Dailly pointed out the many other local governments whose input helped coordinate the project. Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod and Democratic Cook County District 15 Commissioner Kevin Morrison of Elk Grove Village were among the officials on hand, as well as Republican state Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine, who came ready to bicycle across the bridge with others.