New trail to connect counties

By Amanda Porterfield |

Published 06/29 2014 10:44PM

Updated 06/30 2014 10:56AM

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor Quinn announced the state is investing millions of dollars to put a new trail in Central Illinois. It would connect Champaign and Vermilion counties.
It is a plan that's been in the works for years. Now that the state has the land and the money, this trail is in the making. It's an announcement which makes people like Nancy Cox and her husband very happy a new adventure is coming to Central Illinois.

"We do a lot of bike riding and think it will be fun to try and ride that far," said Cox.

But for the state, the new path, which will stretch between Vermilion and Champaign counties, is a trail of triumph.

"This particular trail is long overdue," said Quinn. "We want to get as much as we can to get it done as quickly as we can. It's a team effort."

The idea has been in the works since the 1990's. It kicked into gear recently after CSX sold its old rail line to the state. Both counties got development grants worth $2.2 million. Money from the state's Open Lands Trust is specifically reserved for projects like this.

"It's going to help the community as a whole," said resident Ed Consis. "We have no trails like this in East Central Illinois. I think it's a big deal."

The trail will run from the Vermilion County side of Kickapoo State Park to Champaign County near St. Joseph. Governor Quinn calls it a first class path that Central Illinois desperately needs.

"Our motto in Illinois is leave no child inside. We want to get our kids outside," said Quinn. "It's important that, no matter what age we are, that we aren't couch potatoes. This is a beautiful part of our state."

"All that investment in recreational activities not only provides a quality of life for people in Illinois, but supports over 22,000 jobs and that's important," said DNR director Marc Miller.

But the state will need more money to make the project really happen. The millions of dollars will only start development and only a match of funds will finish the job. That's why it'll be built in stages leaving it up to both counties to find more money to fund the project as time goes on.

"It's very gratifying to see they are going to do this for us," said Cox. "It's been a long time coming."

Vermilion County officials say the goal is to have construction started on the park by the spring of 2015.

A project in southern Illinois was also announced to provide access to a nature preserve. There's a buffer in Jubilee State Park in Peoria County. That will create a larger park and limit development.

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.