It’s been a little over five years on the drawing board, but the Troy-O’Fallon Bike Trail Connector project, is pedaling forward.
The approximate $9.9 million project will encompass just over 8 miles of bike trail and a newly constructed bridge, according to Jerry Kane, managing director of Madison County Transit (MCT).
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About $1.8 million of the cost is associated with right of way property acquisition. Getting the necessary land was what took so long to move forward, Kane said. Much of the trail is being built on abandoned railroad right of way.
“The park district has taken a long time to compile all of the necessary easements, right of way and funding. It was kinda of like putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, but that’s what happens when railroads are abandoned, unfortunately,” Kane said.
Kane said the project would never have become a reality without the two agencies partnering together.
“MEPRD and MCT entered into an intergovernmental agreement to make it all work logistically,” Kane said.
The agreement stipulates MCT will own, operate and maintain the trail, because MCT can not lease out its powers, Kane said.
“So MEPRD is responsible for organizing funding the project and has secured federal enhancement grants to where the bulk of the funding will come from federal dollars,” he said.
With the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program funding, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Grant, St. Clair County Transit District funding, the cost to the MEPRD is going to be approximately $1.7 million.
Keller Construction was the low bidder with a project construction cost estimate of $5.9 million; and, construction engineering of $876,000.
O’Fallon has a wonderful trail and park system and community; and, this trail will extend that, recreationally, and/or even commuting into Madison County and vice versa.
Jerry Kane, managing director of Madison County Transit
MCT has 130 miles of pedestrian/bike trails in Madison County, so Kane said he is excited to see this new trail connect with St. Clair County’s 183 bike and shared use trails.
The Troy-O’Fallon project has about 1.26 miles completed now.
“O’Fallon has a wonderful trail and park system and community, and this trail will extend that, recreationally, and/or even commuting into Madison County and vice versa,” Kane said.
Where will the paths link up?
“This project will be linking up with the MCT Goshen Trail that currently ends at I-55 and the frontage road,” Kane said.
The Goshen Trail is an 8.8 mile asphalt trail with a trail head and parking available in Troy, near Old Troy Road at Illinois Route 162. The project was listed with the Metro East Park and Recreation District June 2013 project list, and continues to be on the agency’s list with an expected completion date of 2018. Sponsored by MCT, the project is ongoing, yet pending status due to the development of about a 7-mile trail section, and related structures between Troy and O’Fallon.
“The bike trail will cross underneath the one of the current concrete underpasses just slightly west of where the current Goshen Trail terminates, south under I-55, and then a block east to go to the two frontage — north and south sides of I-55 — to offer safe passage of cyclists and pedestrians,” Kane said.
“The trail will go off-road a little for a short section of about a block, but we plan on installing two stop signs on either side,” Kane said.
The tail will continue on Mary Mae and get on the main alignment and go to O’Fallon’s Kyle Road, and then on to the O’Fallon Sports Park, which boasts over 200 acres of green space packed with playground structures, trails, soccer fields, duck ponds and a water park.
Old bridge to new
There will be a new bridge, according to Kane.
There are currently two concrete piers that were once part of the old CSX Transportation Railroad alignment that will only be used to assist in building and erecting the new bridge, but not as supportive beams, he said.
“Clear span from one bridge abutment to the other on north and on the south, so the bridge will be about 100 yards in distance with the CSX railroad over a creek and Lockmann Road (between Troy and Collinsville),” he said.
Kane said efforts were previously made to evaluate and determine whether or not the current standing piers could be incorporated into the new bridge construction, but “we couldn’t find any blueprints that Illinois Department of Transportation could analyze to see if they comply with current seismic standards.”
“In late 1980s, it was abandoned, and IDOT quickly eliminated the bridge that went over to save on maintenance costs,” Kane said.
Lockmann Road runs east-west and becomes Longhi Road north of the tracks and after the alignment, and there’s a deep ravine, he said.
Involved in four major railroad acquisitions since 1993, Kane said protraction is one thing he said you can count on, which has taught him patience, and to “not hold his breath,” but to roll with the obstacles as they come.
O’Fallon Parks and Recreation Director Mary Jeanne Hutchison said the city has identified several potential trails and extensions as a part of its long range planning, including: Scott-Troy Trail South Extension, Engle Creek/Cottage Road Trail, and Milburn School Trail.
I just see so much potential here in O’Fallon for multiple trails to connect and flourish.
Mary Jeanne Hutchison, O’Fallon Park and Recreation director
“I just see so much potential here in O’Fallon for multiple trails to connect and flourish,” Hutchison said.
She said it would be great to someday find out that the CSX tracks running through O’Fallon that are currently out of commission, through means of temporary discontinuation, be eventually fully abandoned, and turned ‘rail to trail.’
“It would be just great. I see so many options for family and community events and activities if that were to someday be made possible in addition to this project, but only time will tell,” she said.
A look at costs, funding
While the total cost of the project has been estimated at $9.9 million about, the MEPRD also estimates the grant funding to be a total of $8.2 million leaving a project cost to MEPRD of about $1.7 million.
Other project expenses include:
▪ Construction: $5.9 million
▪ Construction engineering: $876,000
▪ Preliminary engineering costs: $726,600
▪ Preliminary engineering costs: $380,000
▪ CSX Transportation Construction Agreement: $60,000
▪ St. Clair County Wetlands Mitigation cost: $31,800
▪ Water Quality Certification: $6,800
Project revenue projections:
▪ ITEP$4.8 million
▪ ITEP: $700,000
▪ ITEP funding for eligible P.E. costs: $564,000
▪ IDNR OSLAD Acquisition grant: $175,000
▪ SCCTD Grant: $2 million
Data provided by MEPRD Version 3/22/17