PILSEN — The Southwest Side’s proposed El Paseo trail is on hold after it was left out of a citywide plan to expand bike and pedestrian paths throughout the city, according to local aldermen.
The project, which would create a 4.2-mile-long stretch of greenway in Pilsen and Little Village along the existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail line, has been controversial among residents who wondered how it would have impact on housing.
The project was not one of a dozen projects suitable for pedestrians and cyclists.
Ald from Pilsen. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) said the main obstacle is the location of the trail, which is near the neighborhood’s industrial corridor. He said the concentration of cyclists and pedestrians in an area so heavy with truck traffic and pollution poses safety concerns.
An example of a nearby industry is Sims Metal Management, 2500 S. Paulina St., which recently drew heavy criticism from Southwest Side conservationists for its pollution. His facility is located just down the block from where El Paseo would be located.
“We want to have an industrial corridor in harmony with the residential area,” Sigcho-Lopez told Block Club. “We think this [project] must be done correctly.
Sigcho-Lopez said he and other community members pioneered the idea of having a pedestrian and bicycle greenway along 16th Street, which is also home to a rich history of Pilsen murals. He said he intended to have a community meeting on the matter this month.
Ald of the small village. Mike Rodriguez (22nd) said he hoped concerns about the trail’s impact on nearby cost of living could be resolved while plans are on hold.
Housing prices near the 606 have skyrocketed, and Southwest Siders fear El Paseo will similarly accelerate gentrification.
“We all agreed to make it community-focused,” Rodriguez said. “We need to prioritize affordable housing.
City officials did not respond to a request for comment on the project.
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