Winter Weather FAQ

Extreme cold, freezing temperatures and snow are here, and as The 606 heads into its second winter, we’ve received several questions about our winter maintenance policy. As a new park, we value your feedback, especially as we continue to find ways to improve and enhance The 606 year-round.

  1. What is The 606’s winter maintenance policy, and how long has it been in effect?

The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail winter maintenance policy has been in effect since the trail opened to the public. Per that policy, the Chicago Park District will remove snow and keep the center of the trail clear when there is a minor snowfall (please note, in 2015, we had an unusually mild winter, and snow fall did not exceed two inches on the trail).

In the event of a significant snowfall (ranging from 3-6 inches and dependent on additional factors such as wind and snow wetness), the Chicago Park District will not remove snow.

  1. How do you decide when to clear the trail?

A variety of elements are taken into consideration, including the amount of snow in the timeframe forecasted, type of snow (wetness), current weather conditions and upcoming weather conditions. If it’s a significant amount, (usually 3”- 6”), the snow will not be cleared on the trail, but the ramps will be cleared and covered with CMA. (Please refer to number 5 for more information about CMA).

  1. Why does the policy differ depending on snow fall?

Various weather conditions like wind and wetness of snow can affect how the Chicago Park District is able to remove snow from the trail. The equipment approved to be used on the trail is a small tractor attached with a brush, which has less of an impact with heavier, wetter snow.  Snow plows cannot be used on the trail because it will tear the blue rubber running surface and the native plantings along the trail.

  1. Wouldn’t it just be easy to do a single pass with a plow in the center of the trail?

The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail is not like a typical Chicago street. Because of the narrow space, blue rubber running surface and the landscape design, we use a small tractor attached with a brush to clean up the snow in efforts to protect the unique elements of this trail.

  1. How do you remove ice from the trail? Can you add salt to the trail on the icy portions?

The only de-icing material that can be used on the trail is Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA). Salt is not used because it would damage the plants and blue rubber running surface. When mixed with snow, CMA interferes with the ability of snow particles to adhere to each other or the surface it is on.  It is most effective over a similar temperature range as road salt, but performance decreases below 20 degrees F.

  1. The project received federal transportation funding, what are the grant’s requirements?

The 606 received funding through a federal program called CMAQ, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program. The intent of the project is to provide a linear route that connects to other transit assets, which is why it was eligible for, and won, CMAQ funding. The trail can be closed or out of service at times and not be in violation of the requirements of the Program. For more information visit: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/air_quality/cmaq/

  1. Will you be offering winter sports programs like cross country skiing or snowshoeing?

The Chicago Park District is exploring a variety of options for winter sport programs such lessons at The 606 for 2017. We will update this site when programming becomes available.

  1. Can I bring my own winter sports equipment and use it on the trail?

Yes, when there is an excess of 3 inches on the trail, we encourage you to bring your own snow shoes or cross country skis to use at The 606. Unauthorized motorized vehicles are prohibited on the trail top.

  1. Why does Chicago Lakefront Trail get cleared but not The 606?

The Chicago Lakefront Trail and The 606 are very different.  There are no material and snow equipment restrictions for the Chicago Lakefront Trail.  On most of the Chicago Lakefront Trail, the snow can be removed with a plow and the trail can be salted.

  1. Were all seasons taken into consideration for the trail design?

Yes. With the uniqueness of this elevated trail system in mind, operational and maintenance efforts were devised to ensure the longevity of this trail system lasts for decades.