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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 1999

Governor Awards $57 Million In Bike Path Grants To Local Communities

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today awarded about $57 million to nearly 80 community bicycle path projects, adding hundreds of miles of trails to Illinois' current park system and expanding recreational opportunities in every part of the state.

"Bike paths, trails and greenways are very popular because families enjoy the outdoors and because they link neighborhoods and communities in all parts of the state," Ryan said. "They offer families a safe place to enjoy the outdoors together."

The Governor's Illinois FIRST program, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will generate the funding for the bicycle path projects. Illinois FIRST has 20 projects totaling $4.2 million. IDOT has 37 projects totaling $47.7 million and DNR has projects in 26 communities totaling $3.5 million.

Last year, Ryan pledged to complete the Grand Illinois Trail, a proposed 475-mile network of interconnecting trails linking Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. Many of the connecting trails are included in the projects for the 2000 budget year. After hiking the Lost Bridge Trail near Springfield in 1998, the Governor noted that the state has numerous opportunities for people to enjoy outdoor recreation.

More than 640 miles of trails have been funded since the bicycle grant program in Illinois was established in 1989. Natural Resources Director Brent Manning said the agency, which administers the program, received 64 applications seeking $7.1 million for bike path projects.

"Local governments recognize the importance of bike trails to their community recreation and transportation improvement plans, making the grant requests very competitive" Manning said.

The grants are available to any local government with statutory authority to acquire and develop land for public recreation. The grants are funded from a percentage of motor vehicle title transfer fees and provide up to 50 percent of an approved project's total cost. Grants to develop bike paths are limited to $200,000. There is no cap for acquisition projects.

Applications for the next round of bike path grants will be accepted from Jan. 1 through March 1, 2000. Additional information about the program is available from the DNR, Division of Grant Administration, 524 S. Second St., Springfield, IL 62701-1787, or by calling 217/782-7481.

IDOT administers the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) in cooperation with the DNR, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs and the Capital Development Board. ITEP is a federally funded program designed to support projects that provide facilities beyond the traditional accommodations for cars, trucks and transit, including bike paths, historic transportation structures and roadway beautification projects.

Illinois FIRST is a five-year $12 billion public works program designed to address the state's deteriorating infrastructure Illinois FIRST will fund road and bridge projects, school construction projects, the clean-up of urban brownfields and other environmental hazards, the upgrade of sewer and drinking water systems, and a host other quality of life enhancements including bike path construction.



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