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$4M awarded for construction of Crab Orchard Greenway

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 2:12 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2021 at 3:57 PM CDT
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SOUTHERN Ill. (KFVS) - The Illinois Department of Transportation awarded $4 million for the construction of the Crab Orchard Greenway.

The Cycle 14 awards include $2 million to co-applicants Marion Unit 2 School District/CONWR and an additional $2 million to co-applicants RIDES Mass Transit District/CONWR.

The money will fund the design and construction of nearly 6 miles of the greenway, a proposed multi-use trail that runs parallel to IL 13 between Marion and Carbondale.

The Crab Orchard Greenway.
The Crab Orchard Greenway.(Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge)

“I mean it’s going to be a great opportunity for recreation, to access the natural areas on the refuge and it’s also going to connect to convenient residential areas for folks to hop on the trail in Marion, they can get on in Carbondale, they can get on at Carterville,” said Joe Zdankiewicz, director of transportation planning with Southern Illinois MPO.

The funding is part of the Illinois Department of Transportation Enhancement Program to expand travel options and enhance the quality of life in communities throughout the state.

IDOT announced nearly $106 million total was awarded to communities. This year’s program was the largest ever due to the passage of Rebuild Illinois funding.

“Investing in local communities strengthens our state’s entire transportation system,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Under Gov. Pritzker’s leadership, we’re working to ensure resources are getting to the communities that need them most. By investing in infrastructure and travel options at the local level, we’re making Illinois a safer and better place to work, build a business and raise a family.”

The western part of the trail from Lewis Lane in Carbondale to the Refuge is being completed by IDOT to be part of the Crab Orchard Greenway.

“Because with their improvements to Route 13, the expansion between Marion and Carbondale, they are required by complete streets law to look at how bikes and pedestrians might be accommodated,” said Zdankiewicz.

According to Crab Orchard, progress on the trail has been made in recent years because of funding of a segment across the John A. Logan College campus and construction of trail segments in eastern Jackson County and the Carterville area.

The trail will stretch 18.3 miles total. When finished, nearly 10 miles of the trail will run through the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge.

“So, you know, if you’re coming, staying at one of the hotels, you can get on your bike, you can be out on the refuge in just a few minutes if you want to go fishing or just wildlife observation, and the good thing about it too is it also goes through one of our camp grounds,” said Neil Vincent, visitor’s service manage at Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge.

Those involved believe it will be another outdoor benefit to the region.

“It’s a great feature for the region. It’s great for recreation, great for tourism and the bike trail will really open it up too new users, because there are folks already that ride on the roads in the refuge and this will give them a designated place to ride,” said Zdankiewicz.

It will provide access to the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge, Marion High School Sports Complex and the Historical Village on the John A. Logan College campus.

They said the Crab Orchard Greenway will be a multi-use facility providing access to transit services, public education facilities, residential areas, retail and businesses, as well as recreational access to the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.

RIDES Mass Transit District, Marion Unit 2 School District, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, John A. Logan College, Cities of Carterville, Crainville, Carbondale, Marion, IDOT District 9, Williamson and Jackson Counties have all contributed to the project.

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