IDOT on the Path to Extend Kickapoo Rail Trail

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IDOT on the path to extend the Kickapoo Rail Trail

Work includes construction of an 88-foot-tall bridge near Danville.

District 5’s Bureau of Planning partnered with Carle Health System to fund the 2020 Urbana Kickapoo Rail Trail Extension Study. The study was developed to analyze the potential of extending the Kickapoo Rail Trail west from its current terminus in east Urbana through downtown Urbana to Lincoln Avenue. Completed in December, the study’s findings outline a variety of potential benefits from the proposed extension, including improved access for the Carle Health System and University of Illinois campuses, increased opportunity for active lifestyle habits, environmental enhancements and economic benefits that include the creation of up to 41 jobs.

The 24.5-mile KRT, formerly the Chessie Seaboard Multiplier/Conrail railroad, links Urbana to Kickapoo State Park passing through St. Joseph, Ogden, Fithian, Muncie and Oakwood. Approximately 7.5 miles of this corridor have been developed for recreation, including hiking, biking and other non-motorized purposes, bringing economic, transportation and environmental benefits to these communities. The trail touches some of the most diverse ecosystems in the area, including woodland, prairie and wetlands.

In 2019, District 5’s Office of Highways Project Implementation joined local agencies for the construction of a 1,300-foot bridge on the KRT. The bridge deck elevation measures 88 feet, providing a spectacular vantage point over the North Fork Vermilion River. Work on the bridge is expected to be completed in spring 2021. The department also managed work on the mile trail section running through Kickapoo State Park near the Vermilion County fairgrounds.

Acquiring the land for the KRT took nearly 20 years, with the trail’s development the result of partnerships between the county conservation districts, local communities and the state. Plans for future advancement include fundraising, land acquisition, engineering, environmental surveys, phased construction, addressing the Vine Street bridge’s structural integrity and access point development. The work will help make the community a better place to work, play and live. Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grants have provided $5.3 million for various elements of the project. For more information about rails to trails projects and initiatives, visit https://www.railstotrails.org/our-work/united-states/illinois/#state.