Persistence has paid off for the City of Jacksonville in the case of the Lake Jacksonville recreational trail.
The City applied for an Illinois Department of Natural Resources Recreational Trails Program grant more than 3 years ago in the hopes of completing the paved walking trail all the way around the lake. Former City Planner Kelly Hall had openly spoke in city council meetings about getting the trail completed, by connecting the north paved trail to the south side of the lake.
In April, after a second application, the city received notification that they had been accepted into the program and that a bridge could be built to connect both sides of the trail. Greg Hillis, engineer of Benton & Associates, explains that the bridge was the final piece to connecting both sides of the lake: “It takes the trail a step further. It gets a bridge across the creek. That piece was eliminated sometime back…quite a few years ago. That’s always been the hurdle of connecting both sides of the lake, trying to get funding to do this bridge. With the DNR Recreational Trail Program that the city received, it’s allowing the bridge to be designed and installed to get that access to what we are calling the south side of the lake.”
The project now moves to the design phase before it is bid out and eventually built. One of the stipulations of the grant that this is for a walking trail only. This will not connect the UTV-ATV path that is currently on the north side of the lake. Hillis did not provide a timetable on when the trail will get completed.