Proposed Bronzeville Trail moves forward

Members of the Bronzeville Trail Task Force. Photo provided by John Adams.
Members of the Bronzeville Trail Task Force. Photo provided by John Adams.

Proposed Bronzeville Trail moves forward

By Tia Carol Jones
John Adams, Esq., was walking through Bronzeville and saw the abandoned Kenwood “L” Train Embankment and it sparked an idea for the Bronzeville Trail.  The Bronzeville Trail is a proposed walking, running and biking trail, which would be located from 40th and Dearborn to 41st and Lake Park Avenue. Adams is the founder and project director of the Bronzeville Trail Task Force.


In 2005, Bronzeville Urban Development, led by Patricia Abrams, proposed an identical project. According to Adams, the city told the group the project was too risky. Adams reached out to Vernon Williams, a well-known architect, to get his thoughts about the location becoming the Bronzeville Trail. He used his connections and experiences to get residential, institutional and legacy stakeholders on board with the idea.
Adams considers himself a legacy stakeholder, someone who grew up in Bronzeville and wants to see the community flourish, but no longer lives there.


In 2020, the Bronzeville Trail Task Force was established. Adams and the Board of Directors connected to 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell, 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King and Maurice Cox, Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development.


The embankment is owned by the Cook County Land Bank, which Adams said accelerated the potential of the project happening. The Bronzeville Trail Task Force put out a Request for Qualifications in August 2021, and the parties were selected after the Board vote.


The Bronzeville Trail Task Force visited the Bloomingdale Trail at 606, which stretches 2.7 miles through West Town, Humboldt Park and Logan Square. The purpose of the visit was to see the economic impact the trail had on those communities.


In 2022, the Bronzeville Trail was on a list from the City of Chicago for the Mayor’s vision for trails across the city. Chicago Community Trust awarded the Bronzeville Trail Task Force a $75,000 community engagement grant. Adams believes it will take about $100 million to complete the project, which includes neighborhood development with construction of the trail. “There’s all sorts of amenities that will be associated with the trail,” Adams said.


In October 2022, the United States Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland conducted a public hearing on naming Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, which was the site of the funeral for Emmett Till, a National Monument. Having the church become a National Monument would bring much needed resources to the community, which would include the Bronzeville Trail. “It’s going to be a huge tourist attraction, which means all sorts of small business are going to emerge bringing goods and services for all the tourists,” Adams said.


In December 2022, the consultants hosted a public engagement meeting where they presented findings to the community.The Bronzeville Trail Task Force continues to have conversations with elected officials to get their support. The feasibility study was conducted by the City of Chicago. The next step, according to Adams, is a Neighborhood Development Plan.


Adams believes the Bronzeville trail will be a safe connection to the Lakefront for pedestrians and bikers. Also, the trail will be a major driver in attracting investing, housing and amenities.


For more information about the Bronzeville Trail, visit bronzevilletrail.org.

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