IDOT Awards $4M for construction of the Crab Orchard Greenway trail The Crab Orchard Greenway is a proposed multi-use trail that will run generally parallel to Route 13 between Marion and Carbondale. Substantial progress on the trail has been made in recent years, including the recent awarding of $4 million by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
IDOT Awards $4M for construction of the Crab Orchard Greenway trail
The Illinois Department of Transportation has awarded $4 million towards the design and construction of almost six miles of the Crab Orchard Greenway, a proposed multi-use trail that generally runs parallel to Route 13 between Marion and Carbondale.
The funding is available through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, designed to expand travel options and enhance the quality of life in communities throughout the state.
This year’s program is the largest ever due to the passage of Rebuild Illinois funding, according to an IDOT news release.
“Investing in local communities strengthens our state’s entire transportation system,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Under Gov. Pritzker’s leadership, we’re working to ensure resources are getting to the communities that need them most. By investing in infrastructure and travel options at the local level, we’re making Illinois a safer and better place to work, build a business and raise a family.”
Once complete, the COG trail will extend for 18 miles between the Marion High School Sports Complex and Lewis Lane in Carbondale, providing access to transit services, public education facilities, residential areas, retail, and business. Approximately 10 miles of the trail will be within the CONWR providing a safe and convenient way for local residents to experience the scenery and wildlife within CONWR.
“The Crab Orchard Greenway will provide safe, family-friendly access to area treasures,” Neil Vincent, visitor services manager at CONWR, said in the news release.
There’s been substantial progress on the Crab Orchard Greenway trail in recent years — with funding of a segment across the John A. Logan campus and the construction of trail segments in eastern Jackson County and the Carterville area, according to IDOT.
The active involvement of the local communities and agencies that have contributed matching funds — or agreed to maintain a portion of the trail — illustrates the regional cooperation that has made the trail possible, according to an IDOT news release.
“Regional and inter-agency cooperation yields results. This project would not have happened without the input and active participation of each of the federal, state and local agencies involved,” said Joe Zdankiewicz, Southern Illinois Metropolitan Planning Organization’s director of transportation planning.
RIDES Mass Transit District, Marion Unit 2 School District, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge (CONWR), John A. Logan College, cities of Carterville, Crainville, Carbondale, Marion, IDOT District 9, and Williamson and Jackson Counties have all contributed to advance the project from a conceptual idea to reality.
The Crab Orchard Greenway will be a significant attraction for the region and a convenient resource for exercise and recreation for all the communities along the Route 13 corridor, IDOT said.
The greenway will provide access to the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, the Marion High School Sports Complex, and the Historical Village on the John A. College Campus.
The awards for the Crab Orchard Greenway include $2 million to the Marion Unit 2 School District and the wildlife refuge and an additional $2 million to co-applicants RIDES Mass Transit District and the refuge, the release stated.
This funding will construct the greenway from the Marion High School Sports Complex to near the Route 148 and Old Route 13 intersection.
“Bike paths mean business. There are economic studies from all over the country that show young families are seeking active lifestyle opportunities before making a decision to relocate for work. Access to recreation, like biking and walking trails, are a significant factor when choosing where to plant roots. This means we have the opportunity to not only recruit but also retain our own young professionals with amenities like the Crab Orchard Greenway,” Marion Mayor Mike Absher said in a release.
Future trail segments will complete the connection of the greenway to existing trail segments at the Wolf Creek overpass near Carterville and Crainville and westward to Carbondale.
Study prompts plan
A few years ago, a study by SIMPO, with cooperation from IDOT, CONWR and the SIMPO local members, established an overall plan for bike and pedestrian accommodations in conjunction with planned improvements to Route 13.
Prior to this study, IDOT had completed several segments of multi-use trail complying with the Illinois Highway Cody’s “complete streets” provisions, which states, in part, “Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration in the planning and development of transportation facilities.”
It also states: “In or within one mile of an urban area, bicycle, and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction or other change of any State transportation facility.”
The study focused on recommending a route that would be safe for a wide range of users and would attract the most users while also providing recreational opportunities within the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.
SIMPO and The Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission, in concert with the local government partners and agencies, continue efforts to secure funding to complete additional segments of the trail.
“The Crab Orchard Greenway is a Regional project that will add quality of life for the citizens of Williamson County and the surrounding area. Williamson County government is proud to be playing a supportive role in both the development and funding of the COG” said Jim Marlo, Williamson County Board Chairman.
“The development of the COG has been an accumulative effort of multiple agencies and many individuals. I am very proud to have been given the opportunity to participate in the development and funding of the COG as an Illinois DOT employee and now as the Williamson County Engineer. I look forward to assisting in the final development and construction of the COG,” said Travis Emery, Williamson County Engineer.
“Marion Unit 2 School District is excited to participate in this project. The Greenway will be a great opportunity for recreation for local residents and will promote tourism in the region,” Dr. Keith Oates Marion Unit 2 School District Superintendent, said.
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