Route 66 News

Bicycle trail hits a roadblock

John Fritsche, a cycling enthusiast who’s been leading an effort to establish a 17-mile bicycle trail on an abandoned section of Route 66 between Staunton and Litchfield, Ill., said in a letter to the editor in The Journal-News in nearby Hillsboro that the project has run into a snag.

The roadway is under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Transportation. Our proposal was simple, in that our request was for the department to remove selected sections of guardrail, level any bumps and potholes, and sign the trail for safety between Staunton and Litchfield.

It was clearly demonstrated by the department that our request was not possible because of liability and precedence issues. […]

It is now time to present our case in writing to our Governor and to our U.S. Senators and Representatives to request their assistance in making this recreational trail a reality for the people of South Central Illinois.

It seems clear that IDOT is reluctant to remove the earthen barriers because ne’er-do-wells in motorcycles and cars might drag-race on the old roadway. Post barriers spaced so no car can enter the road ordinarily would solve part of the problem. But just a grassy median separates the old road from the current Route 66 that’s still used by motorists.

IDOT basically has two options. One is installing cable barriers in the median, plus the previously mentioned post barriers, to prevent unauthorized access by cars.

Or the agency simply could turn over ownership of the old roadway to the appropriate township or county, where either can assume the liability or take steps to create a safe and enjoyable bicycle trail.

Either way, Fritsche seems adept at getting politicians on his side. I wouldn’t be surprised if a compromise is hammered out so the trail can proceed.