Planning continues for Old Plank Road Trail extension to Northwest Indiana, but opposition remains

A bike trail connecting Chicago’s south suburbs continues to face an uncertain path into Northwest Indiana. A feasibility study on the extension of the Old Plank Road Trail is set to wrap up this summer, according to Mitch Barloga with the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC).

The trail currently runs from Joliet to Chicago Heights. The extension could take it to Dyer and Schererville, where it would connect with the Pennsy Greenway.

But Barloga told NIRPC’s Ped, Pedal and Paddle Committee last month that the proposed route continues facing strong opposition from Dyer officials. “Again, it’s up to Dyer. We have always said that to them,” Barloga noted. “It’s like, we’re not bringing bulldozers the next day when the plan’s approved. That’s not how this works. It’s a long way from that happening, and the Dyer Town Council’s in control of it.”

But the project appears to have momentum on either side of Dyer. NIRPC has already funded the section between Dyer’s Central Park and the Pennsy Greenway, and Barloga says Cook County is starting engineering work up to the state line. That raises the possibility of a one-mile gap in central Dyer.

“The corridor is free and clear,” Barloga said. “It’s the best route for the trail in Dyer. It connects to many neighborhoods. It’s a great asset, and we hope, down the line, we’ll see that done.”

Anna Harden

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