Hey and Associates, Inc. was selected by the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development to plan and design the conversion of an abandoned rail line in the Pilsen neighborhood into a linear park. The plan is characterized by a nearly one-half mile long multi-use trail with interspersed plazas, pocket parks, and community gardens. Green infrastructure including rain gardens and permeable pavement was also prominently featured. Improvements to neighborhood streets such as traffic calming measures, reduced crosswalk distances, and the proposed conversion of a two-way street to one-way to improve traffic flow were also included.
Extensive coordination was required during project planning. Remediation of contaminated soils had to be coordinated with the former property owner and US EPA. The local alderman and resident groups strongly supported this project to remove urban blight and develop an open space that could be used by the community. Coordination with other agencies including the Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management, and Chicago Park District was also necessary.
This project is part of a comprehensive project known simply as Paseo that Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, CDOT Commissioner Scheinfeld, and others publicly announced in March 2016. Paseo is planned to be a four-mile long multi-use trail centered on vacant rail lines. The trail will connect the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods, and bring new opportunities for recreation, culture, and beautification.