Route 66 News

Illinois receives grant for bicycle trail

McLean County, Ill., has received a $1.5 million federal grant to help build a 4-mile bicycle trail along Route 66 from Normal to Towanda, according to the Bloomington Pantagraph.

The money came from federal excise taxes on fuel, and can be used for developing alternative forms of transportation. Local matching funds are required for such projects.

The county’s share is $385,000, which also will be covered partially by communities along the trail.

From the article:

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.

Other states are starting to get on board in building bicycle trails along Route 66. But Illinois is way ahead in this effort.

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