Wednesday morning, the Sycamore Park District received word that its grant application to IDOT’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program was approved in entirety at $632,600. This grant will fund the engineering and construction of ACTION 2020’s Phase I trails project to connect Route 23 near the Sycamore Middle School to the Brickville Road parking area that accesses trails to Leon Larson and Sycamore Lake Parks. The total cost of the project is $790,750 which includes a local 20% ($158,150) match provided by the District.
Funding for this state program is provided by the federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) which focuses on establishing alternate transportation routes in communities throughout the country. This 1-mile asphalt trail segment will add a safe walking/biking corridor to the middle school as well as an integral piece of a larger county-wide plan to connect the Great Western Trail trailhead to Peace Road. Specifically, the project includes replacing and widening the existing ½ mile stretch of sidewalk along Route 23 from the bridge at the Kishwaukee River northward to Maplewood Drive and installing a new ½ mile trail from Route 23 westward to Brickville Road.
Preliminary engineering work has already been completed by Engineering Resource Associates, as part of the grant application. The next step for park district staff will be to coordinate with IDOT as they establish timelines for completion and oversee construction. The CUSD #427 has already provided easements on its property for the westward branch of the trail. The City of Sycamore will maintain the “safe crossing” at the Brickville Road parking area. Park district staff will also work with the School District and ENCAP Inc. to identify and implement hands-on learning opportunities for middle school students in the newly established natural areas along the trail.
Funding for the District’s extensive, $13 million long-range plan, ACTION 2020, is supported by three sources: $9 million from property taxes; $3 million from grants; $1 million from fundraising. This grant is the first of several the District will seek from IDOT and IDNR to reach the $3 million grants goal. Ted Strack, Sycamore Park District Board of Commissioners President says, “The success of this grant gave us an encouraging start to our grant writing campaign. We have other state grants in the works and are waiting patiently and hopefully for funds to be unfrozen, and we have raised $700,000 of our $1 million goal for fundraising!”
This trail, along with Phase II, which connects the Great Western Trail trailhead to Old Mill Park, make up one of seven ACTION 2020 projects. In all, ACTION 2020 will bring Sycamore a community center, splashpad, dog park and sled hill, biking trail connections, a soccer complex and a new irrigation system at the Sycamore Park District Golf Club