OREGON – The Oregon Park District learned this week that a bike path, in the works since 2011, will become a reality thanks to a $1 million grant from Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program.
The ITEP grant was awarded to 54 projects in Illinois for biking and walking paths, trails, streetscape beautification work and other projects designed to encourage safe travel across the various modes of transportation.
The Oregon Park District was awarded $1,086,000 to build a bike and walking path from the edge of Oregon from Route 64 to Lowden State Park.
“This is very exciting for our community, Park District and the hundreds of thousands of tourists that visit our state parks each year,” said Erin Folk, Oregon Park District executive director.
The Oregon Park District’s idea for a path from Oregon to Lowden State Park began in 2009. During that year the state of Illinois attempted to close several state parks in Illinois. It was identified then that over 400,000 tourists visit Oregon’s state parks each year.
“In 2011 the district began to research ideas to provide alternative transportation for community members and visitors,” Folk said. “The City of Oregon and Oregon Park District, in partnership, created the Community Bike Trail. The Oregon Park District wanted to expand off that trail and provide opportunities to connect the state parks. Unfortunately, in 2011 the first design concept created for a connecting path was sidelined due to the excessive costs.
In 2016, with Oregon’s renewed interest in downtown revitalization and the biking community, the district began looking at the plans again. The ITEP grant was a perfect fit to provide the path. The district approached the City of Oregon and Ogle County to assist in Phase I engineering costs to apply for the grant.”
Both government agencies agreed to partner with the Oregon Park District. The City of Oregon and Ogle County each contributed $19,000 and the Park District contributed $50,462.51 toward Phase I engineering costs.
“The Intergovernmental agreement between the park district, City of Oregon and Ogle County showed everyone’s commitment to the community, commitment to fostering a trail system within Ogle County and commitment to tourism,” Folk said. “Oregon has many wonderful things happening right now and we are excited to add to that. Businesses are being revitalized, new businesses are moving in and we have several organizations, such as Oregon Together and the Chamber of Commerce, offering events and festivals to draw people to our community.”
Phase I is substantially completed and with the grant secured Phase II will begin.
Following completion of a federal agreement to participate, Phase II will begin. This will include finalizing an Environmental Survey Request, finalizing the Project Development Report and preparing the Plat.
Plans are to have Phase II and final designs complete and submitted to IDOT for approval by February 22, 2019. A bid letting is scheduled for April 26, 2019 with anticipated construction to begin in summer 2019.
“The total project costs are $1.3 million,” Folk said. “This will benefit the community and in the end, be an avenue for visitors of Lowden State Park to access all the wonderful things in the Oregon community. The goal with this project is to benefit our community members, bring tourism dollars and hopefully attract new residents.
“The Park District will pay for our portion of the project, estimated at $271,500, over the next two fiscal years. Plans are to to utilize existing capital improvement funds for the project. The overall fund balance is strong and continues to increase every year. The district is in a good financial position due to proper planning in hopes of bringing this connection from Oregon to Lowden for many years.”