Federal funds will spur work on nearly $3 million worth of metro-east projects intended to encourage residents to bike and walk through neighborhoods.
The projects include expanding a bike trail in Belleville and the next phase of a beautification project in downtown Collinsville.
Nearly $50 million in federal revenue will fund 54 projects throughout the state and support more than 400 jobs, according to a news release from Gov. Pat Quinn. The state administers the federal funds through its Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program.
Locally, about $1.3 million in federal funds will fund the final phase of the West Belleville Bike Trail. The trail will be extended along Foley Drive from Frank Scott Parkway to Wesley Drive, according to Belleville Parks and Recreation Director Jim Schneider. Construction will likely not begin until 2014.
"It's going to be really nice," Schneider said. "It will add a whole new linear park for west Belleville."
Once complete, the trail will connect to a one-mile trail stretching from Wesley Drive to Signal Hill School. The Signal Hill Bike Trail was built with funds from a state grant encouraging safer routes for children to take to school.
Hal Leventhal, owner of Bicycle World in west Belleville, said bike trails may not draw serious cyclists but are perfect for families. His store also maintains part of a bike trail near Southwestern Illinois College as part of the city's adopt-a-trail program.
"I think bike trails in general are great for our industry because it's a safe place to ride away from vehicle traffic," Leventhal said. "Anything they do or propose to do I'm 100 percent for it. It's good for the sport and good for us because it increases the family aspect of cycling."
The city of Belleville will contribute about $323,000 to the project -- 20 percent of the total cost.
This will be the second phase of the trail's construction. Work is expected to begin on the first phase this summer with the construction of a bike trail from Citizens Park to Bellevue Park. The city has already budgeted for both phases, according to Belleville engineer Tim Gregowicz.
The West Belleville Bike Trail is the latest in a long-term effort of connecting bike trails throughout the city, Schneider said.
Another $1.2 million in federal funds will continue beautification efforts on streets in downtown Collinsville. The city began the streetscape project in 2008 to encourage business growth and will contribute $295,000 for the latest phase of the project.
The new work will enhance three quarters of a block on East Main, East Clay and Aurora streets. The block is located just east of the recently relocated Illinois 159.
Those streets will have decorative pedestrian lighting, stamped brick cross walks, trees along sidewalks, and ensure the upgrades meet the standards of the American Disability Act, according to Jim Mollet with the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Other projects to receive federal funding include $363,000 for the reconstruction of South Main Street in Troy and $113,000 for a streetscape project on Collinsville Avenue in East St. Louis.
News-Democrat reporter Jacqueline Lee contributed to this article. Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2501.