U.S. Bicycle Route System > Corridor Plan Updates & Routing Within Corridors

New Corridor Connecting St Louis to Louisville??

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The following email correspondence came through last week. As you can see I think this would be a fantastic route (and addition to the corridor plan)!

My name is Kevin Schilt. I am a member of the Village  of West Salem Board of Trustees
in West Salem, Illinois. We are located  in Edwards County in Southeastern Illinois.

I am currently working  with the District 7 Office of the Illinois Department of Transportation in  Effingham (IDOT) to establish a Bike Route on Illinois 161 and also on  Ext.161. This route would stretch from New Baden, llinois in the Metro  East St. Louis area and finally reach the eastern part of Illinois in the  St. Francisville, Illinois (Allendale, Illinois). If we was to name this  route I believe G & W Route (Gateway to Wabash) would be a possibility  since this would go from the St. Louis area (Gateway
arch) to the  Wabash River area. Anyway it's to early to name it.

This road would  be favorable because the majority of the traffic travels Interstate 64 in  the Western portion of this area. The eastern part is rural in nature and  there is hardly any traffic from Centralia to the east. There is a state  park located on this corridor along with some other local  attractions.

I have accessed the ACA "A Bicycle Travel Friendly  Town" in hopes we can use this as a model for this Route. I want to ask  this question, Is starting a Route like this in vain or a waste of time??  One reason to consider a route is that we have seen an upswing in  bicyclists in the past couple of years.

Here is my response:

Hi Kevin,

 I reviewed the route you are proposing with the IL DOT and I think it sounds fantastic.

I work on a project called the U.S. Bicycle Route System (www.adventurecycling.org/usbrs) and I would like to add this route as a corridor to our Corridor Plan map with continuation of the route from Mt. Carmel on 64 to Louisville . I am attaching one of our older version of the Corridor Plan map (you can find the most recent version on our website – right tool bar under pdfs - but it doesn’t list the names of the cities so it is much more difficult to identify locations). Notice that we don’t had a corridor identified linking St. Louis to Louisville . This could be a really great U.S. Bicycle Route and if you are already working on it in IL, it will really help.
With your permission, I would like to contact both the DOT bike/ped coordinators from IN and IL and get them in on this proposed route and see if they would be interested in designating it as a U.S. bicycle route in the future.

To answer your question regarding whether your work is a waste of time…absolutely not! You’re work will help both cyclists and motor vehicles. And it will bring low-impact tourism to the small communities along the route. If we can make it a US bike route, it will help hundreds of traveling cyclists find their way between two important cities. Nice work!

Have you been working with any of the advocacy or biking groups from the state or your area? If so, please let me know.


Stay tuned for more on this topic!

And this came via email recently:

Dear Ms. Sullivan,

Thank you for your support and direction for Kevin Schilt’s proposed bike route through Southern Illinois!

I am the Executive Director for the Southeastern Illinois Convention and Visitor Bureau and am responsible for 7 counties; Jasper, Clay, Richland, Lawrence, Wayne, Edwards & Wabash. Kevin’s proposed route goes through these last 3 counties listed.  I support Kevin Schilt’s efforts and welcome any further support and direction you can provide.

Meanwhile, let me tell you that I have traveled this route many times in my car (I’m afraid my serious bicycling days are behind me) and can say that this route is a smooth blacktop that is not heavily traveled.  Sam Dale State Fish & Wild life Area (http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/PARKS/R5/SAMDALE.HTM) is a beautiful state park that is located less than a mile north of this proposed route in western Wayne County near Johnsonville.  It has a large lake with a restaurant on site (appropriately named “Middle of Nowhere”) that is open seasonally.  Camping is available, but currently there are no showers.  However, they are working on getting them.  Meanwhile, there is a designated swimming area in the lake.  (See photos of Wayne County at this link> http://picasaweb.google.com/seicvb/WayneCounty#)

 Heading east from Sam Dale State Park you will find some very small towns along this proposed route and you can fully expect to encounter the friendliest people willing to assist in any way they can.  Almost all of the towns have at least a small post office, eatery and/or gas station.
In Edwards County you will cross over Highway 130, but I would like to say if someone would like to take a detour north 13 miles to Olney (In Richland County) you will find Pacific Cycle (http://www.pacific-cycle.com/) the “largest bicycle company in North America!”  They have multiple kinds of bicycles of all sizes and shapes and are available at deeply discounted wholesale prices.  Furthermore, in Olney there is Highway Two, a company specializing in bicycle saddles and tires. Learn more at: www.highwaytwo.com. (To see photos of Richland county click here> http://picasaweb.google.com/seicvb/RichlandCounty# and to see photos of Edwards County click here> http://picasaweb.google.com/seicvb/EdwardsCounty#)

Returning from the detour will bring you through the town of West Salem, where Kevin Schilt lives. It is a very friendly town with a grocery store, gas stations and Thelma’s Bed & Breakfast at 201 S. Broadway.

Continuing east will bring you into Wabash County through the town of Lancaster where there are more people buried in the local cemetery than are currently living there.  My ancestors settled just north of Lancaster in 1850 (in southwest Lawrence County) and I have many relatives that are buried in the Lancaster cemetery. (Click on the following link to see photos of Lawrence County http://picasaweb.google.com/seicvb/LawrenceCounty02#)  I should add that 12 miles north of Lancaster is the town of Sumner and just 1 mile east of town is Red Hills State Park with campsites (with showers!) a large lake and restaurant. (http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/parks/r5/redhls.htm) 

If you continue east from Lancaster you will come to the town of Allendale intersecting the highway - Illinois One.  You can travel north to St. Francisville (Camping is available at the end of main street next to the river) and if you cross the Wabash Cannonball Bridge (Formerly a railroad bridge, now a single lane toll bridge) you will arrive in Indiana.  You can continue on the same route where George Rogers Clark and a small revolutionary army captured Fort Sackville (now Vincennes) from the British in 1779, which changed the course of America. (http://www.vincennescvb.org/)

Or back from Lancaster, you can travel east, then south through Friendsville (appropriately named) on your way to Mt. Carmel (the county seat of Wabash County) connecting to Highway 64 in Indiana, but let me add that just six miles south of Mt. Carmel is Beall Woods State Park (http://www.dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r5/beall.htm) where there is tent camping available.  It has a beautiful interpretive center, with lots of hiking trails through the largest single tract of untouched deciduous forest remaining in the United States! (See photos of Wabash county by clicking here> http://picasaweb.google.com/seicvb/Wabash#)
Need I say more?  Meanwhile, see our website at: www.southeastillinois.com or see our 2009 Travel Guide by clicking on the following link> http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/GJ/southeastillinois_tg09/

Finally, I would like to say that I think that this would be an excellent bicycle route connecting Louisville Kentucky and St. Louis Missouri passing through the friendliest a safest place in America.  Come visit us! 

Ed Brumley
Executive Director
Southeastern Illinois Convention and Visitor Bureau
1707 East Main Street, Suite #5
Olney, IL 62450-3156
Office 618-392-0925 or toll free (outside Olney) 877-273-4554
e-mail ed@southeastillinois.com

It's always good to get the local perspective on bike routes - here's a perfect example of why we don't sit in offices and figure out where to ride but put people on the ground with local knowledge. thanks again Kevin!


I have a question on the route proceeding on 64 from Mt. Carmel.  Do you mean Indiana 64 or Interstate 64?  I believe if the route goes across the bridge to Indiana 64 you may have a problem.

The road is very, very dangerous.  It is a very heavily congested route between Princeton & Mt. Carmel, Illinois with coal trucks.

There is an alternative.   Coming out of West Salem, continue east through Lancaster.  You have 2 choices.  Bringing the route to Indiana  crossing at St. Francisville at the Wabash Cannonball Bridge then bring the route down south.  Believe me it will be a lot safer.  More scenic also.


1.  Go about 5 miles east of lancaster to the Bridgeport Road. (E 1200 Rd) and turn left toward Bridgeport.  The road is marked well and it is a good blacktop road (very good, low traffic).  Go about 3 miles north in Southern Lawrence County to the first stop sign and turn right (east) on N 150 st.  toward St.  Francisville.

You will come to Illinois 1 and cross the hiway to go into St. Francisville toward the Cannonball Bridge.  This is rural area.


2.  Second option is to go all the way through from West Salem to Allendale to Illinois Route 1, turn left (north) and go about 6 miles up Illinois 1 to St. Francisville and cross at the Cannonball Bridge.  Not bad, maybe medium traffic for Hiway. 


Thank You again for your time.


Kevin Schilt

Another option for the St. Louis to Louisville Route could be to go south from Mt. Carmel on Illinois 1 to Crossville, Illinois .  At Crossville, take Illinois 14 to Historic New Harmony, Indiana, then head east toward Evansville and Louisville.  This would allow a crossing into Indiana.  This a toll bridge but leads into a very scenic and historical area.
Illinois 14 is not traveled because most of the traffic stays on Interstate 64.  Again this might be another option.

If your a bicyclist and plan to come through West Salem, Illinois on this route  on Sat. June 27, 2009 there will be a Freedom Celebration. Also there will be a Yard Sale Day, Parade and one of the biggest Fireworks in Southeastern Illinois.  NO JOKE Between 5,000 and 7,500 show up in this town of 1,100 for it.  If at least 10 bicyclists plan to travel through West Salem on this day please let me know  between 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. I might make some Ice Cream, just before the parade.  But I need to know by June 15.  Also if you have a tent and would like to stay I can see what we can do about finding a place for you  to pitch a tent.  If you would like more info on the Ice Cream e-mail at schaser1@yahoo.com.  For more information on the Freedom celebration go to www.ectimesadvocate.com and click on Freedom Celebration.  I would like to show you how our community knows how to welcome traveling Bicyclists.


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