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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mother Road bike path gets support

In recent days, the Normal City Council approved a bicycling-pedestrian master plan, and the McLean County Board approved an engineering contract for a proposed Route 66 bikeway.

That's good news as far as the Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph is concerned. In an editorial Tuesday, the Pantagraph says: "Don't take this area's links to the Route 66 for granted. Appreciate the potential it offers for recreation and tourism."

On Tuesday, the McLean County Board approved a $170,000 engineering contract for a 3.5-mile section of the trail between west Bloomington and Shirley, a small town southwest of Bloomington on the Mother Road, the Pantagraph reported.

County Board member Don Cavallini said private financing was made available for a portion of the bikeway around Lexington, and board member Stan Hoselton said Chenoa received $300,000 for a portion near that community.

"If it's extended, it would be quite an additional asset to McLean County," Cavallini said.

McLean County has been committed to a Route 66 bikeway since 1999, when the county reached an intergovernmental agreement with communities along the Mother Road to build the bikeway.

County leaders anticipate the bikeway will become part of the Route 66 Trail, a system of trails and roads mapped by the League of Illinois Bicyclists that links St. Louis and Chicago. While most of the trail is on roads, including old alignments of Route 66, efforts are being made to create more trails.

For example, Madison County Transit had made it possible to ride from the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge to Staunton, Ill., on bike trails or designation bike routes. Folks in neighboring Macoupin County are looking into turning unused pavement on an old Route 66 alignment between Staunton and Litchfield into a bike trail as well.

To draw attention to the potential of Route 66 as a cycling destination, LIB is putting on the 2009 Route 66 Trail Ride from Aug. 29 to Sept. 3. The tour is a loosely organized and self-supported ride with several events scheduled to discuss the trail.

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