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Oregon Park district gets $1M grant for bike path

A bike path in the works for eight years can now move ahead, thanks to $1 million in federal funds.

The Oregon Park District has been awarded $1,086,000 through the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program to build the Rock River Heritage Trail, a bike and walking path from the edge of Oregon along River Road to Lowden State Park.

“The district is obviously very excited,” said Oregon Park District Executive Director Erin Folk. “This is a great project for the park district, the community, and tourism in the area. Without the grant we couldn’t do it.”

Made possible by federal funds administered by IDOT, ITEP awards are focused on improving bike and pedestrian travel, as well as other surface transportation improvements that promote alternative options for getting around in the community.

Folk said tentative plans call for construction to begin in May or June of 2019.

The Ogle County Board, City of Oregon, and the park district agreed to split the $59,000 cost for an engineering study a year ago to increase the chances the park district would get the grant for the $1 project.

Oregon Mayor Ken Williams said he is pleased.

“We’re very happy that the grant was approved,” he said. “It will have a major impact on the city to have that bike path to Lowden Park.”

The City of Oregon also received an ITEP grant for $20,160 to cover the engineering costs to improve the sidewalk on the north side of Washington Street (Ill. 64) from Fourth Street to Fifth Street.

Williams said the project is part of the city’s streetscape improvements to downtown sidewalks, most of which is already done and include new sidewalks and street lights.

Williams said the city will apply for another ITEP grant to do the project once the engineering study is complete.

The grants, which were announced Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner, are part of $37 million awarded for 54 projects throughout the state.

The ITEP projects approved include biking and walking paths, trails, streetscape beautification work, and other projects designed to encourage safe travel across the various modes of transportation at the local level.

To be eligible, applicants must commit a local match of at least 20 percent to their project and demonstrate a plan to have their awards spent within four years.

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