Earlier this month Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois Department of Transportation announced $52.7 million in grants for community transportation projects. The IDOT’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program puts federal funds back into local communities. The program is designed to promote alternative transportation options, including bike and pedestrian travel, along with streetscape beautification.

Take a look at the projects — when you do the math . . .

  • 93% of grants went to recreational trails, improving bike transportation and pedestrian projects
  • 7% went to sidewalk and pedestrian projects (included in 93%)
  • 7% went to streetscape beautification, like making highways to O’Hare pretty, or pretty railroad stations, or pretty bricks in downtown Petersburg

So to slice the numbers 93 percent of funding went to transportation alternatives, and 84 percent of the funding went to recreational trails and bike transportation like the projects suggested locally of a bike/run route to and around Lake Jacksonville, a recreational trail along the Town Brook, a bike route along State Street (including connections east to Sangamon County on Old State Road and west along the old Northern Cross Route).

Compare this to the 2013 IDOT ITEP projects, when only 47 percent of funding went to recreational trails and bike transportation. Jacksonville was lucky enough to be selected for Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grants for both segments of the Downtown Turnaround, including the upcoming work on North Main. With the current priorities towards transportation alternatives, it looks like Jacksonville timed the downtown revival work just right!

Looking forward to the future, the best chance the Jacksonville community has to land more of these grants is to work together to develop recreational trails, bike routes, pedestrian safety improvements and other transportation alternatives! Please join up with the Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Park Foundation to work with local governments to get this done.

Written by Steve Warmowski