A bicycle and walking trail in Logan County has long been the dream
of fitness enthusiasts and community-minded people. Recreation
trails not only enhance quality of life for local populations and
serve as an economic development factor attracting new businesses,
but also, today's trails are bringing valued tourist dollars to a
Considerable trail interest has been demonstrated for about 20
years. Planning toward several trails for Lincoln, Atlanta, Elkhart,
Chestnut, Mount Pulaski, Broadwell and Middletown has primarily been
The first major movement was in 2007, when a group attained city
and county approval to establish the Logan County portion of the
Historic Route 66 Bike Trail. Ordinances were passed and a grant for
signage attained, with Logan County being first in the state to mark
the trail. The Chicago-to-St. Louis trail brings bicycle enthusiasts
through Atlanta, Lincoln and Elkhart.
Now, planning and persistence may bring movement in establishing
the county's first off-road walking and biking trail. Seeing how
those types of trails are enjoyed in Springfield, Bloomington and
Decatur, local businessman David Lanterman has spearheaded the
effort for the same thing here.
This month, Lanterman and Darren Forgy of Prairie Engineers of
Illinois came before the Logan County Board. They are seeking a
grant that if received, would allow the start of construction of
what would eventually become a 10-mile off-road trail.
While the trail would have strong local appeal, it also crosses
the Route 66 Bike Trail, which Lanterman believes would hold
additional attraction to those bicyclists as an off-road side trip.
The long-range goal is to establish a trail from Lincoln to
Union. Like bicycle trails elsewhere, this trail would also use an
old interurban rail line for its base. Plans are to pursue each of
three segments separately. The likely dividing lines would be where
the trail meets Kickapoo Creek and Sugar Creek.
The first segment, being talked about now, would run from Adams
School and north to Kickapoo Creek, creating an estimated two-mile
Currently, a dirt path worn by recreation vehicles between Adams
School and Kruger Road affords about a 1 1/4-mile scenic jaunt
through a narrow band of woods.
The state would be requisitioned for the property it owns under
Interstate 55. Then the trail would extend under I-55 to Kickapoo
Of the completed 10-mile trail to Union, Lanterman observed:
"With a turnaround, that makes a nice product to offer."
There are a lot of processes and hoops to jump through to
establish a trail. Last year, Lanterman and Lisa Kramer of Prairie
Engineers went to the Lincoln City Council and the Logan County
Board for a letter to be sent to the Illinois Department of
Transportation to keep usable bridges open on the old rail line.
The state and county engineer Bret Aukamp examined the condition
of the bridges.
This year a grant was found, and as part of the application
process, the county was asked to be the sponsoring organization.
The $1 million grant being pursued is an 80-20 split. Private
funds would support the 20 percent match, which Lanterman says is
mostly in place already.
It is unknown how much the railroad or the state might ask for
the properties they own. A few segments have been sold to private
landowners, and those sections would need to be negotiated for sale
or use as well. Also, there would be acquisition and other fees.
The estimated costs of a premium, three-lane trail would run
about $500,000 per mile, but there are options that would lower the
The grant money might not go far, but Lanterman feels it is a
step in the right direction. He hopes that land use and extraneous
costs can be kept to a minimum and more of the money can be spent on
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County accepts sponsorship, for now
When the request to be named sponsor on the grant came to the
county board, finance chairman Chuck Ruben was the first to offer
comment. He said the property would need to be accounted as county
property. Also, there was concern that the trail would create
However, insurance chairman Jan Schumacher checked with the
county's insurance provider and learned that there would be no
additional cost in insurance.
Board chairman Bob Farmer asked that the group form a 501(c)(3)
to be the sponsor.
The board agreed in a 9-2 vote, with Ruben and Bob Farmer voting
against, that Logan County would be the sponsoring agency for the
grant. An amendment to clarify that the county would not be
responsible for any appraisal costs passed with all 11 board members
voting in favor. Terry Carlton was absent.
Who will help with the trail?
The bicycle group has been working with a number of entities,
including the city of Lincoln, in the acquisition of the rail line.
They are working with the Logan County Parks and Trails Foundation,
the Lincoln Park District and lining up groups to help maintain the
"There have been quite a few different community organizations
that are interested and very excited about this project," Lanterman
The Lincoln Jaycees have expressed interest in helping with
summer maintenance projects like trimming trees.
Lanterman summed up: "It's a great thing for your community.
People from the community will be able to use it, and it's a good
calling card for tourism. People travel from all over the country to
do bike trails."
Regional planning commission to help county with trail planning
Following a steering committee recommendation, the Logan County
Regional Planning Commission decided in March that a $14,000 IDOT
grant for transportation planning would be best used for a
whole-county bicycle and walking path plan. County engineer Bret
Aukamp said that word of approval is expected any day.
Some of the other past and current "trailblazers" who have worked
diligently for the project have been John Sutton, Dale Bassi and
Bobbie Abbott. Officials who have actively pursued trail efforts
include Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder, county board members Bill Martin
and Dave Hepler, and past planning commission director Phil Mahler.
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