The project that has all Chicago athletes talking took a step forward Wednesday, when the Chicago Park District board approved a $1.7 million contract to fund the engineering and design services of the lakefront trial separation.

The board appointed Los Angeles-based firm AECOM to “develop renderings, participate in community meetings, prepare cost estimates and create plans for rerouting trail users during construction,” the Chicago Tribune reports. The company, which has offices in Chicago, will also look at landscape design, conduct utility surveys and identify sewer, water and electric line relocations.

In December, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s friend Kevin Griffin donated $12 million to the Chicago Park District for this project. Congestion on the path has long been an issue, and with nearly 100,000 residents utilizing it each day on a summer weekend, creating a separate trail for cyclists and pedestrians seemed like a no-brainer.

Now, a new 20-foot wide pedestrians trail will be built, made of asphalt and soft surface mix; closer to Lake Shore Drive, bikers will have a 12-foot asphalt trail. The Park District predicts construction of the paths will begin this spring, and is to be completed by 2018. Griffin’s donation should cover the entire project, spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said in an email.

“The bicycle trail would accommodate primarily patrons using the (lakefront) park to bike to work or bike through the park without having to weave in and out of slower-paced walkers and joggers,” according to a Park District document. “The pedestrian trail would be designated for people using the park for walking, jogging and pushing strollers.”

AECOM has worked on several Chicago projects in the past; it led engineering services for new runways at O’Hare International Airport, and built pedestrian bridges connecting to the lakefront.

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run several shorter distance races and two half marathons. Her goal for 2017 is to try a triathlon, and eventually do the Chicago Marathon. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism. Working at Chicago Athlete, Holly has been able to explore photography a lot more, which is one of her main hobbies. She enjoys taking photos at endurance races, and is also passionate about nature photography and portraiture.


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