Route 66 in the News

County Gets Funding for Route 66 Bike Trail

2010-10-29 20:58:04

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - McLean County has received more than $1.5 million to create a four-mile stretch of the Historic Route 66 Bike Trail from Normal to Towanda, Gov. Pat Quinn announced Friday.

The money was a portion of $90 million in federal transportation enhancement funds Illinois awarded for alternative means of transportation.

The money comes from federal excise taxes on gasoline and can be used for community-based projects to improve walking, biking, taking transit and riding in vehicles, including streetscape beautification, according to the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse, an information service sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

The federal government awarded nearly $9 billion since the program was created in 1991.

Quinn said the latest awards will help fund a total of 120 projects which will create or retain 900 jobs. Local matching funds are required, and work must begin on the projects within three years. Quinn also announced a $1.181 million grant for a multi-purpose path at Lake of the Woods Road at Mahomet and $716,790 for a Pinecone Path extension at Dwight.

In McLean County, the local share for the Normal-to-Towanda trail will be $386,000, said McLean County Assistant Administrator Bill Wasson. An intergovernmental agreement calls for the county government to share the cost with communities involved in the trail project. The trail will eventually run from Chenoa through Bloomington-Normal to McLean.

The latest grant will cover the distance from Shelbourne Drive in Normal to County Road 29 which enters Towanda from the north. Engineering will be completed in 2011 and work will be done in 2012, he said.

The Historic Route 66 Bike Trail will eventually run about 370 miles from Chicago to the Illinois state line along the corridor of Old Route 66 and its precursor Highway 4, said Doug Oehler of Bloomington, a member of the project's steering committee and vice president of the League of Illinois Bicyclists, an advocacy group.

Parts of the trail have been completed in Towanda and Lexington as well as a 4.5-mile stretch from southwest Bloomington to Shirley, which officially opened about a month ago. Oehler said the path, which makes it safe and easy to ride to Funks Grove and the popular Sugar Grove Nature Center, is well-used by cyclists and walkers already.

"It's been a home run," said Oehler.

~Scott Richardson, Pantagraph.com

 

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