The Sterling City Council voted to apply for an Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant that would fund 80% of a $1.6 million project to build a bike path starting near the Dillon Home and Martin’s Landing.
If approved for the grant, the city would pay about $320,000 toward the project.
The project would connect the Dillon Home and downtown for cyclists.
“Right now, you can ride your bike all along the riverfront and get down to the Dillon Home,” Sterling mayor Skip Lee said. “What we want to do is connect the Dillon Home to the riverfront. It will take this along Second Street.”
City Manager Scott Shumard said phase 1 engineering is nearly complete for the project.
“We’re just waiting on I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed from iDOT to get their final sign-off on the phase 1 engineering. Once that’s complete, as soon as we find if we’re to be awarded, we’re ready to go,” he said.
This is the third time Sterling has applied for the state grant.
Discussion of the project has been underway in Sterling for five years, with plans to reconfigure Second Street.
The path would be a shared use path for cyclists and pedestrians along much of Second Street with a curb between cyclists and motorists. Once it reaches the curve connecting Second Street and Broadway at the Dillon Home, the path would veer off to connect with an already existing path leading toward the Rock River.
“People have taken up bicycling much more,” Lee said. “My generation lived on bicycles when we were kids, and then we kind of lost that. In the last 15 years, bicycling has become a much more important recreation.
“You need to be able to do it in a safe manner, that’s why bike lanes are getting consideration. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with motorcycles, automobiles aren’t always aware of where people are. Bike lanes make it safer.”
The city is looking at several other projects to revamp the riverfront area.
In September, the city applied for a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfields cleanup grant for the former Lawrence Brothers Building.
In August, the council discussed plans for a park, which would sit along Wallace Street and Avenue B on the former site of the National Manufacturing and Northwestern Steel and Wire Plant No. 1.
This summer, work was completed on the Sterling Marketplace, a roofed pavilion, which, in addition to hosting the weekly farmers market, has served as host for several other events.
A bike path would allow cyclists to ride along the Rock River and through a new-look downtown.
“I could see eventually someone could bike from Dixon and spend an afternoon along our riverfront,” Lee said.