Illinois is considering sending back federal funds to pay for the 38-mile Sangamon Valley Trail, a biking and hiking trail that connects Girard and Athens, crossing the western side of Springfield.
It's a threat facing bike trail program nationwide, warns the League of American Bicyclists.
Although Congress approved $400,000 for engineering and pre-construction work on the trail last fall, reports the Springfield Journal-Register, Congress later rescinded $2 billion in transportation funds nationwide.
The League of American Bicyclists reports that it's up to each state's transportation department to choose which projects won't get funding. Because bike trails are a longer-term projects and lower priority, they are taking a bigger hit.
“We recommend you ask your state DOT to take funds equally from all affected programs and not single out those programs that have been used to fund bicycle and pedestrian projects such as the Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails program.”
A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation said it's easier to send back money for projects that haven't started. Matt Vanover said Illinois stopped awarding bike trail grants for a period when federal policy was uncertain.
Out of $89.2 million in unobligated dollars residing in the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Programs fund, $11.6 million will be sent back to Washington. That leaves about $78 million to pay for bike trails, lighting, transportation museums and related projects, Vanover told the Springfield Journal Register.