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Local

Batavia explores rerouting bike trail section

Path would shift to riverbank around sewage plant

As city officials tour the site, Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke (left) and 7th Ward Alderman Dave Brown use a tape measure to determine the distance between the west bank of the Fox River and the edge of the new wastewater treatment facility at a narrow point – 18 feet. The city is exploring the possibility of re-routing the bike path along the riverfront. Clark Island Park with its limestone gazebo is seen in the background.
As city officials tour the site, Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke (left) and 7th Ward Alderman Dave Brown use a tape measure to determine the distance between the west bank of the Fox River and the edge of the new wastewater treatment facility at a narrow point – 18 feet. The city is exploring the possibility of re-routing the bike path along the riverfront. Clark Island Park with its limestone gazebo is seen in the background.

BATAVIA – City officials are “pedaling” a new route for the west-side bicycle trail around the wastewater treatment plant.

For cyclists and pedestrians, the result would be a spectacular view from the west bank of the Fox River.

The sewage plant is located south of downtown at the end of Shumway Avenue. Currently, the bike path skirts around the plant’s inland side, taking southbound riders up a fairly steep incline on the way toward Quarry Park.

With the sewage plant about to kick off a multiyear, multimillion-dollar expansion and upgrade, the city has been exploring the possibility of rerouting the path between the river and the treatment facility.

Bike trail users would have clear views of Clark Island Park and beyond to the east bank of the river.

The five-year, $70 million wastewater plant project will increase the volume of sewage the facility can handle, and also will bring the city into compliance with tougher federal pollution standards for the effluent released into the Fox River.

It also will mean altering the route as it runs along the north side of the treatment plant property to get west of the facility. After mulling options, it was proposed that bike traffic share the Flinn Street roadway.

The Batavia Bicycle Commission – a group of volunteers appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council – objected to that option and suggested running the trail along the west bank of the river.

“The current route is already confusing because the route utilizes roads, paths and sidewalks,” commission Chairman John Gamble wrote in a memo to city aldermen. “Good path design should be consistently one material type, if possible, to encourage and direct riders to remain on a path.”

Gamble also said rerouting the trail along the riverbank would improve the connection between the west-side trail and Clark Island’s bridges, which provide the link to the east-side trail.

City officials toured the proposed riverfront route last week with Jerry Ruth, an engineer from St. Charles-based Trotter and Associates, the firm designing the treatment plant project.

While there are some narrow spots between the river and the new buildings, the rerouted path is feasible, Ruth said. Some embankment work would be needed to guard against erosion, he said.

The cost of such a project is uncertain, and the city likely would pursue grant money to help fund the work.

Mayor Jeff Schielke said moving the trail would be a long-term project, perhaps two or three years down the road.

The first phase of work on the treatment plant is expected to begin soon, and that will mean a temporary detour for bicyclists starting May 15.

Northbound cyclists will be directed onto Union Avenue to Water Street and then east onto First Street.

Schielke warned aldermen they are likely to hear complaints from residents.

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