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ST. JOSEPH — Work is underway on a short extension of the Kickapoo Rail Trail in St. Joseph that should be completed this year.

A third-of-a-mile asphalt addition to the trail, from Main Street to Seventh Street, will be built this summer, said Mary Ellen Wuellner, executive director of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District.

Design engineering for the trail extension has begun, Wuellner said, and tree and brush clearing along the route will start later this month, weather permitting.Most of the vegetation that will be removed includes aggressive, non-native trees and shrubs such as bush honeysuckle and tree of heaven.

The forest preserve district, which owns and oversees the rail trail in Champaign County, will attempt to protect native trees along the trail, such as black walnut, black cherry and hackberry, she said.

"Jon Hasselbring (the district's planning director) and I went door to door in St. Joseph to homes near or adjacent to the trail to let people know what will be happening," she said. "We don't want people to be surprised when they see work going on."

Also in St. Joseph this spring, work will begin on improvements at Kolb Park, just south of the existing trail. Restrooms will be upgraded, parking will be expanded and a short spur will be built between the park and the trail. The work is scheduled to be completed by fall.


Tom Kacich is a columnist and the author of Tom's Mailbag at The News-Gazette. His column appears Sundays. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@tkacich).

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