Champaign County gets more than $2.6 million in trail, bike grants
CHICAGO — Champaign County is set to receive more than $2.6 million in grants for trails and bike paths, Governor Pat Quinn's office announced Saturday.
The Champaign County Forest Preserve District is the big winner, receiving $1.84 million for a multi-use trail in eastern Champaign County and $293,780 for a bicycle and pedestrian trail in Mahomet.
The village of Rantoul is slated to receive $505,320 for a downtown area bike path.
The grants were included in 71 community transportation projects throughout Illinois that amount to a $52.7 million investment, expected to support more than 400 jobs.
The funding comes through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP), a federally-funded, competitive program that encourages transportation -related projects.
— The long-planned Kickapoo Trail project consists of the conversion of a 24.5-mile abandoned railroad right-of-way into a multi-use recreational trail. The project parallels U.S. 150 for most of its route and extends from the west side of Smith Road in Urbana to the east Vermilion County fairgrounds entrance.
The $1.84 million is intended to pay for the first stage of the trail in Champaign County, a 6.42 mile section from High Cross Road in Urbana to Main Street in St. Joseph.
— The Illinois 47 multi-use trail features construction of a bicycle pedestrian path paralleling 47 from Franklin Street to the south ramp to I-74 and again from the existing trail head at Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve to Briarcliff Drive, all within the Village of Mahomet. A widened shoulder, part of IDOT's improvements to Illinois 47, will connect the two pathway portions giving cyclists a complete transportation corridor through most of the village.
— The downtown Rantoul area bike path will connect to 25,000 feet of village bike path and will complete a portion of the village-wide bike path plan. The path adds on to an existing bike path that was completed in 2013 and provides pedestrian and cycle access to downtown Rantoul and numerous schools and parks. The bike path will connect with the existing sidewalk system at nine intersections along the proposed route and provide increased access and safety upgrades for residents.
The ITEP program is designed to promote alternative transportation options, including bike and pedestrian travel, along with streetscape beautification. The federal funds are awarded competitively, and any local or state government is eligible to apply.
Local matching funds are required, and work must begin on the projects within three years. For the current round of funding, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) received 232 applications asking for nearly $260.5 million in ITEP federal funding.