CARBONDALE — Council members voted Tuesday to accept a $75,000 grant from the state to push toward its second phase of bike path development.
According to the Carbondale City Council agenda, the city was notified in August that it had been awarded the Bicycle Path Program Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Since then, the city has been coordinating with the department to accept and execute the grant.
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The money, which the city has pledged to match as part of grant requirements, will be used to purchase the railroad right-of-way from New Era Road to Illinois 13 (West Main Street) near Wood Road — the end goal being to build a bike and pedestrian path that would connect with the recently-constructed trail underpass/Lake Road connector and the trail to Airport Road.
According to the agenda and council discussion, the city previously received Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant funds to build a bicycle and pedestrian trail from Oakland Avenue to New Era Road. City Manager Gary Williams said during Tuesday’s meeting that the city had tried to get ITEP funds for the New Era Road/Illinois 13 path, but because the city did not yet own the land, it was denied. Williams said he and staff are hopeful that by purchasing the land it will be able to secure those funds in a future granting cycle.
City Planner and Bike Plan Coordinator Molly Maxwell said when this project is finished, it will connect much of Carbondale for cyclists. She said there will be an option to limit time on Illinois 13, which will make riders happy.
“Even though there are currently bike lanes on 13, just riding next to traffic that’s going pretty fast is not the ideal way to travel by bike,” she said.
As for when the loop going through northeast Carbondale will be complete, Williams said there are still a lot of variables in the air that make pinning down a completion date difficult. He said the grant has to be approved, the project has to be designed and the work has to be done. He said it could be a few years, if all goes according to plan.
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