Carle joins Urbana neighbors to study extending Kickapoo Rail Trail
Carle stands ready to fund the local portion of a state grant to study extending the Kickapoo Rail Trail through Urbana parks and neighborhoods. The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) submitted the Urbana Kickapoo Rail Trail Extension Planning Study grant application in an effort to secure Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Statewide Planning and Research (SPR) Funds.
“As a neighbor to the potential Kickapoo Rail Trail extension, Carle sees value in exploring opportunities and opinions for a path that would benefit neighbors and the community, as well as our employees, patients and visitors who would have direct access to this rail-trail,” said Carle President and CEO James C. Leonard, MD.
Carle is providing the required 20 percent local match of $25,018.81 for the grant.
“The KRT extension to Downtown Urbana and Carle Hospital will be an integral and hugely beneficial component of the Champaign-Urbana transportation network. It should be embraced and expanded based on its benefits to the community, including its potential to be an economic driver for Downtown Urbana, reduce traffic, fight climate change through reduced vehicle emissions, and improve public health,” said Rita Morocoima-Black, executive director, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission.
Today, Kickapoo Rail Trail, fondly called the KRT, spans nearly seven miles from Urbana’s far eastern edge along U.S. Route 150 through cornfields, wetlands, soybean fields and prairie to St. Joseph. The Champaign County Forest Preserve District, which manages the existing trails, has been working with its partner in Vermilion County to continue the project eastward into Kickapoo State Park and the City of Danville.
Extending the KRT westward into Urbana would provide improved connections between Carle’s campus, downtown Urbana, Leal Park, Weaver Park, residential neighborhoods and nearby transportation routes. Planning from the study would lead to a safe, convenient path for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy, as well as an alternative to using the much busier University Avenue.
“This is visionary work that will have a significant positive impact on the community and the local economy,” Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin said. “Extending the trail through Urbana will create a safe, accessible connection for pedestrians and cyclists of all ages travelling between downtown Urbana, Carle Hospital and the University of Illinois.”
For decades, Carle has collaborated with local governments to enhance recreational and educational programming.
“Over the years, Carle has worked with the City of Urbana and Urbana Park District on projects of mutual interest and benefit, and participate in planning activities that help shape the future of parks and recreation in Urbana,” Dr. Leonard said.
When organizations partner like this, the local and regional community benefits in even greater ways.
“We are excited to partner with the City of Urbana, Regional Planning Commission, Champaign County Forest Preserve District and Carle to study our plan to extend the KRT into downtown Urbana. The Park District is always looking to expand access to our trails and parks and this grant will help us determine if extending the KRT is feasible,” said Timothy Bartlett, executive director, Urbana Park District.