Highland News Leader

Sharpshooters Trail would be stopped in its tracks without state budget

The Sharpshooters Trail in Highland will link the east side of the city from Coventry Way, with a paved path and bridge over Lindenthal Creek. The trail will then head up Park Hill Drive to Lindethal Avenue.
The Sharpshooters Trail in Highland will link the east side of the city from Coventry Way, with a paved path and bridge over Lindenthal Creek. The trail will then head up Park Hill Drive to Lindethal Avenue. clibbra@bnd.com

The new Sharpshooters Trail in Highland will likely not be completed by its deadline next month due to the state of Illinois’ inability to produce a budget.

The city received a letter from the Illinois Department of Transportation, dated June 14, that any projects with work to be completed after June 30, will not be reimbursed by IDOT, until the state a budget or the General Assembly has appropriated funding.

“We will see whatever happens to the great state of Illinois,” Highland City Manager Mark Latham said.

Latham said that the Sharpshooters Trail is the only project that is currently being effected by this. The trail was expected to be finished around July 23, in time for use during the Madison County Fair. When completed, the trail will link the east side of the city from Coventry Way, with a paved path and bridge over Lindenthal Creek. The trail will then head up Park Hill Drive to Lindethal Avenue.

Latham said that the city could carry out the project at its own discretion, but if it did, there would be no guarantee that the city would be reimbursed later by the state.

Hopes are that the contractor can get the project to a point where the trail would at least be usable by the time the Madison County Fair comes to town. The fair opens at Lindendale Park on July 25. Latham said the contractor plans to have all of the road surfacing done with at least rock down on the path.

“It should be in pretty good shape,” Latham said.

The trail is the only project in Highland in progress that would be in jeopardy from another budget impasse.

However, Latham said he fears that the stoppage in funds may postpone plans to build the new roundabout at the intersection of Broadway/St. Rose Road and Iberg Road/Veterans Honor Parkway.

The Highland City Council approved the preliminary engineering for the roundabout March 6. The project is expected to cost about $171,235, of which the state is supposed to pay 90 percent. The financial agreement between the state and city was approved by the council during a meeting June 5. But construction cannot begin until IDOT signs off on the engineering agreement. Latham said he fears IDOT may slow-walk the approval due to the budget issues.

“We just kind of have to row with the flow here,” Latham said.

Latham said that this happened to a project a couple of years ago. The city was working on a sidewalk along Troxler Avenue to help make the schools more safe.

“It ended up working out that they allocated the funding before the July 1 deal, so it really didn’t upset too much,” Latham said. “A lot of this is appropriation. They might not have had a budget, but they went ahead and appropriated funds to continue.”

Latham also mentioned that lack of a budget could also potentially delay disbursement Motor Fuel Tax money to the city. Highland gets about $450,000 in MFT annually, which is uses for road maintenance.

The deadline for lawmakers to come up with a budget was Friday, June 30, but the Illinois House and Senate were continuing to meet through Monday, July 3.

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