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Evanston Environmentalists Upset About Asphalt Trail

Asphalt Bike/Walking Trail
Asphalt Bike/Walking Trail
Members of the city's Ladd Arboretum Committee and local environmentalists are concerned about a city plan to put an asphalt trail through the natural landscape to replace a crushed stone path that now exists. The city also plans to add a concrete sidewalk in some sections of the arboretum's seventeen acres.

On January 30 Gov. Quinn announced that Evanston would receive a $580,000 grant from the Dept. of Transportation to build the trail. The city will add another $145,000 as part of the agreement. On March 10 the City Council unanimously voted in favor of an asphalt path. However, the determination of path construction has not yet been finalized.

Proponents of the asphalt say it is a better surface for children to ride on to nearby Haven and Kingsley schools.

Jim LaRochelle of the Ladd Committee points out that the children already have an asphalt path in adjacent Twiggs Park. Charles Smith, former head of the Ladd Committee, points out that the primary goal for a path should be that it fit the natural surroundings and purpose of the arboretum.

Other factors noted by environmentalists:

a) Asphalt contains petroleum products, volatile compounds, and sometimes heavy metals that can leach into soil and nearby water.

b) The edges of an asphalt path crack with vegetation. For an eight-foot path you need a ten-foot-wide asphalt trail. The asphalt has to be redone every eight years, possibly more often.

c) According to the National Trails Training Partnership, prior to constructing an asphalt trail "vegetation should cleared and stump and roots removed along the trail for a minimum of five feet outside the edge of the proposed pavement."

In support of the asphalt people have noted it is a sturdier biking surface and requires less maintenance.

Recently the trail in Evanston's Perkins Woods, formerly of deteriorating asphalt, was replaced with a crushed stone path. It is hoped that the city will hold open its final decisions on the path in Ladd Arboretum.




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Jim April 09, 2014 at 10:09 AM
Neal, do you think that my sidewalk is giving me some ailment. I suggest that you live your life the way you want and that I live mine the way I want, not necessarily the way you want. I do not understand why the environmentalists love coercion.
Stan Wojciechowski April 09, 2014 at 04:08 PM
This is an arboretum, not a path for children to ride to school on. Let's maintain the peaceful, natural character the area has now. We don't need a bunch of noisey kids there. I'd much rather listen to the birds.
jim April 09, 2014 at 04:43 PM
I think treated planking to create a nice sidewalk through the area would be better. Miking through the area should be BANNED. SAFETY ISSUES OF THE BIKERS SHOULD BE BIG CONCERN.
Neal H Levin April 10, 2014 at 07:33 AM
Jim, I certainly don't mean to offend though asphalt sidewalks give us all more ailment than crushed gravel. Asphalt, as is well documented, is bad for the environment, the economy and hence also our kids (of which I have 3 who love to ride their bikes as do I). I've yet to see a report evidencing increased injury when riding on crushed gravel versus asphalt. Real safety comes when we rid ourselves of the toxic pollutants and dependance on oil that comes with the use of this material.
John Chrusciel April 10, 2014 at 11:35 AM
I say the whole issue goes on hold until we hire an expensive consultant . In the mean time we commission special paver bricks to be made. These bricks will need to meet several stingent criteria. First we need "smart" bricks, each having a wifi enabled sensor that will control the physical properties of each paver brick and report back to someone who can monitor the stones. The bricks need to be "green" and help the environment. They can be fitted with small solar powered lasers that sentiently detect and automatically zap and incinerate any litter that might dropped by passing bicyclists within a 10 foot perimeter from the edge of the trail. The bricks will also need small reservoirs that can be filled with organic fertilizers and nutrients that when rained on will leach nutrients back into the surrounding earth. Next the bricks will need to have special magnetic properties that will repulse falling bicyclists and upright them so no one can fall and skin their knees. The bricks need to be very soft so that if the magnetic repulsion system fails and a poor falling rider hits the surface, their fall will be stopped by the soft, energy absorbing surface. Something like a padded brick. We can fine tune the magnetic properties of the bricks to prevent riders from driving at unsafe speeds. The bricks will also be able to monitor the traffic patterns and track every single bicyclist and any other user of the trail. Then we will need a large government grant to hire and train a special team of trail maintainers. All of this after of course we start yet a new government agency equipped with the latest in computer technology that will monitor and run the entire thing. And then we can raise taxes or put a small toll booths at various points for the trail and mandate that all bicycles be equipped with a an electronic "trail pass" that will charge for usage. OR we can simply asphalt the top like the Skokie trail south of this section does. I am forced the skokie portion of the trail when I bike...but it is dangerous. I must report that the ashphalt hurts when I fall off my bike, and the nice green grass that grows right up to the edge of the paved trail has mutated because of the chemicals in the asphalt leaching into it. Last week a mutated carnivorous weed snapped at me and chased me 1/4 mile up the trail. Luckily I escaped. So lets spend a lot of money and make this a federal project.

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