Author Topic: Route 66 in IL and beyond!  (Read 37545 times)

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Offline bobclay99

Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« on: April 30, 2009, 02:18:37 am »
The town of Normal, IL held a public meeting announcing their proposed Bike/Pedestrian Plan on Tuesday.  There was a good group citizens (30 or so) who got to hear from the Mayor and the Consultant they hired to prepare the plan.  It was very encouraging to hear from people who wanted to promote bike and pedestrian travel.  They will be putting the draft plan on the town’s web site, in a couple of weeks.  They also were asking for public comments and suggestions.   They are serious about the issue as evidenced by spending $50,000 consultant fee for the plan.  That is quite a bit of money for the town of 50,000 population.


At the meeting I met Don & Sharon A Mcginnis from the Friends of the Constitution Trail (Bloomington-Normal’s trail system).  I spoke to them about the Route 66 Bike Route.  They said Normal was attempting to get grants for part of the route.  They also said McLean County was active in grant seeking for Route 66 projects.  The Bloomington City Council had just voted Monday to spend over $600,000 on an extension southward of the main north-south branch of the Constitution Trail.  The federal government  had awarded a $1,000,000 grant for the $1.6 million project in previous years.  This extension will take the main north-south segment to just a few blocks from a long trail segment heading west.  This extension would be a part of the Bike Route 66.


All in all it was very encouraging to see signs of progress at the local level.  I think they are getting excited enough that grant applications will  be matched locally to enable continued progress as the federal funding grows.


Offline GSullivan

Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2009, 12:55:06 pm »
Here's another way local groups can get assistance with projects.

The National Park Service helps partners plan successful locally-led
outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation projects.

August 1 is the deadline for the next round of assistance from our
Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss project ideas
with RTCA staff before submitting an application.

Visit for more information.

The folks are AWESOME and can really make a difference in planning and executing your projects. Give them a call and check out the program.

Ginny Sullivan

Offline GSullivan

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2009, 01:03:26 pm »
So I spoke to Ed Barsotti at the League of Illinois Bicyclists and they have Route 66 mapped out. Check out the maps and their site:

Scroll down to the "User Guide Segments" to see the maps.

I believe there is a great deal of support that can be generated to create this US Bike Route. Let's get some other states to contribute to this discussion~
Ginny Sullivan

Offline bobclay99

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2009, 02:17:21 am »
The IL Dept of Natural Resources, League of Illinos Bicyclists and Illinois Trails Conservancy are planning a Media Ride on the Route 66 Trail Aug 29-Sept 3.  The purpose is to promote the Route 66 Bike route at various cities & towns along the route.  McLean County has been in the forefront of this effort.  Towanda and Lexington have bike paths several miles long established on Route 66 right of way.  Chenoa has received a federal grant for a similar path.  Normal has put an extension of the Route on its Bike plan with 5 miles of the Route 66 already constructed as part of the local Constitution Trail.  Bloomington has just voted a $1.6 Million extension to the Route.  McLean County has a long term 5 phase plan for a trail extending southward from Bloomington as part of Route 66.  There is a lot of momentum for this route especially with the tourism benefits associated with Route 66.

Bob Clay

Offline bobclay99

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2009, 02:53:47 am »
The McLean County Board in Illinois just approved an engineering contract for a 3 mile stretch of the route 66 Bikeway.  McLean County is hopefully the project will become "shovel ready" to attract Federal grant money for the $1.75 Million estimated construction cost.  The route would run from west Bloomington to Shirley, Illinois.  This is the first phase of a 5 phase plan in the County for the Route 66 Bikeway.  the muncipalities of Bloomington & Normal have recently adopted plans to extend the Constitution Trail some sections of which form part of the Route 66 Bikeway.

Offline LpAngelRob

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2009, 12:20:28 am »
Wow, took a look at the trail segments. This is very well done!

I guess my question would be... what's the next step towards "official" USBR designation, when a solid route is already defined?

Carol Stream, IL

Offline bobclay99

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2009, 12:51:16 am »
The League of IL Bicylists with others did a great job detailing the route.  See for the route information.  The next step is still rather uncertain at this stage.  See the discussion at the thread "Process to approve a route for a Corridor"  in the Corridor Plan Updates & Routing Within Corridors.  The State Department of Transportation has final authority to submit a proposed route.  The discussion about the process is the best way to convince the DOT that there is public support for the route and no political problems will result from them approving it.  Some suggest forming a Route Committee from communities along the route.  In this area (Central Illinois) there is strong support as Route 66 is already generating tourism spending.  Pontiac, IL even has a Route 66 musuem that draws European visitors.

Offline bobclay99

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond! NEW TRAIL CONSTRUCTION
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2009, 12:59:33 am »
I saw some more good news today.  I was driving on Old Route 66 from Bloomington to Pontiac as I like drive by the bike paths and think of the entire Route 66 having a Bike Route.  There is construction happening in CHENOA for a New Bike Trail!!!  :)    There was an announcement from September 2007 there was a federal grant awarded for it back then.  I had wondered what had happened regarding that grant, but now there is actual construction.   It is supposed to be about 3 miles long.  I would not be surprised if it was completed before winter.  This means we will now have Bike Paths in the following McLean County communities that are part of the Route 66 Bike Trail:  Bloomington,  Normal, Towanda, Lexington & Chenoa.

Offline bobclay99

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2009, 02:33:28 pm »
Following editorial appeared in today’s (Tuesday Aug 18) Bloomington Normal’ Pantagraph Newspaper.  It can be seen on

It is nice support for the route and mentioned the Rt 66 Bike Ride later this month.

Bob Clay


Smart to plan for bike path tied to Mother Road

By The Pantagraph Editorial Board | Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 12:00 am | No Comments Posted

A day after the Normal City Council approved a bicycle-pedestrian master plan for the town, the McLean County Board approved an engineering contract for a section of a proposed Route 66 bikeway.

The two actions were not related - but they share a similar commitment to encouraging people to travel by bicycle. Ten years ago this September, an intergovernmental agreement was reached to share costs and planning for a Route 66 bikeway from Chenoa to McLean.

There are already short segments, some using pavement from abandoned portions of Route 66, in Chenoa, Lexington and Towanda.

In voting to approve the engineering contract, McLean County Board member Bette Rackauskas said that despite the tough economic times - and because of them - it is worthwhile to provide free entertainment for residents.

But this 3.75-mile segment would be part of a project that goes well beyond entertainment or recreation for local residents. The segment from west Bloomington to Shirley would be part of a proposed 370-mile Route 66 Bikeway that would stretch through Illinois from Chicago to St. Louis.

It closely follows the route of the "Mother Road" that was replaced by Interstate 55 for highway travelers but never replaced in the hearts of many.

There already is a route map developed through a joint effort of the League of Illinois Bicyclists, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and others. It includes turn-by-turn directions for a 122-mile ride from Dwight to Lincoln that also lists attractions, such as Pontiac's Route 66 Museum and Funks Grove Maple Sirup.

Long-distance bike trails are big tourist draws in Wisconsin, Missouri and elsewhere. Illinois lags behind these states in making use of this asset. Combining the popularity of bike trails with the international attraction of old Route 66 gives this project a two-pronged hook.

This might not be the right time to spend a lot of money on such a project, but planning should continue so it's ready to go when money is available.

Normal's bicycle-pedestrian master plan notes the "tremendous potential for the Town to realize the extensive recreational and economic benefits of bicycling" by being part of the Route 66 Bikeway.

Even without the bikeway completed, the route is attracting users. The League of Illinois Bicyclists is once again coordinating a trail ride along the route. Taking place Aug. 29 to Sept. 3, its purpose is to publicize and promote development of the trail.

Don't take this area's links to the Route 66 for granted. Appreciate the potential it offers for recreation and tourism. On the Web More details about the trail ride and maps of the route are available at League of Illinois Bicyclists' Web site:



Offline GSullivan

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2009, 06:54:13 pm »
Great news!
Ginny Sullivan

Offline bobclay99

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2009, 01:16:52 am »
Route 66 Bike ride came to Bloomington Normal IL on Monday.  At a news conference, we heard from the two mayors and a state representative speak of the advantages of trails especially the Route 66 Bike path.

Below is newspaper article of the event.

Route 66 riders urge construction of bike trail
Story Discussion By Scott Richardson | | Posted: Monday, August 31, 2009 4:10 pm | (2) Comments

Font Size: Default font size Larger font size Related Links
Related: MyPantagraph: Constitution Trailblazers Group
BLOOMINGTON -- Bicyclists are getting their kicks on Route 66 this week.

Thirty to 50 people each day began riding bikes from the old Chain of Rocks bridge in Granite City to urge construction of a bike path along the historic roadway.

The 375-mile trek, sponsored by the League of Illinois Bicyclists and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, ends Thursday in Chicago.

After pedaling into Bloomington late Monday afternoon, cyclists were scheduled to spend the night after hearing Greg Koos of the McLean County Museum of History speak on the highway's importance. The journey will continue Tuesday through Pontiac and Dwight.

The cyclists are following the Route 66 bike path as it exists now, a collage of rural roads near the highway as well as parts of the road itself.

Their goal is to promote efforts to build the Route 66 Trail, a paved bike path running the length of the highway's right-of-way across the state. About 25 miles are completed, according to League of Illinois Bicyclists vice president Doug Oehler of Bloomington. A majority of those lie in McLean County in Towanda, Chenoa and Lexington.

Oehler and McLean County assistant county administrator Bill Wasson said the county, Bloomington and Normal are awaiting word on a federal grant to fund 80 percent of the path's construction from Bloomington to Funks Grove. The communities and the county would provide the rest. Both men said the international tourist interest and the potential recreational opportunities justify the investment.

"It's such an American icon," said Oehler.

"We believe the improvements will increase both the safety and recreational opportunities available to people interested in walking or biking along the Route 66 corridor," Wasson added.

On the Net:

Offline bobclay99

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2009, 12:17:34 am »
Illinois Governor Quinn today announced grants that according to my addition total $8,602,000 for bike trails in Illinois.  Definitely makes some huge impact especially in McLean County with $1,440,000 for Route 66 trail.  Metropolis got $2,576,600 for the George Rogers Clark Discovery Trail.


Offline GSullivan

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2009, 01:47:32 pm »
For all interested in this discussion, please join us for a US Bicycle Route System Regional Meeting on October 28 in Kalamazoo, MI. If you can't attend, we can send you conference call information.

This is a post-conference workshop in conjunction with the Mid America Trails and Greenways Conference (Oct25-27). You can find registration for the session on the conference brochure

The morning session will be called "Connecting Mid America with Trails and Greenways" and will go from 9-12 noon. A highlight for this morning session will be a presentation by the Michigan Assistant Attorney General, Ron Emery and Bike/Ped Coordinator, Josh DeBruyn on debunking the myths associated with on-road bicycle route designations (addressing liability concerns that agencies and trail managers might have). This is going to be an incredibly informative!

The afternoon session, 1pm - 3pm, will focus on USBRS route/trail development in the mid American states. Illinois trail administrators are invited to this session and we are trying to get the word out to other agencies and organizations.

Please pass this invitation along to anyone you think should be there. Information will be posted at or contact me for a pdf flyer or postcard invitation to pass along. You can reach me at gsullivan - at -

Ginny Sullivan

Offline bobclay99

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2009, 01:53:12 am »
I rode out this evening on Bloomington’s Constitution Trail.  Imagine my pleasure when I noticed at the Southern Terminus of the Main North-South Branch construction activity.  The Trail currently ends at Grove St.  Construction has begun on the extension southward about ¾ mile to Lincoln St where there is a new short east-west section just being completed.  The east west section on Lincoln will at some time? connect to a long current east-west section (2.5miles?) that is  now part of the Route 66 Bike Trail.  The Southward extension gets the completed trail closer to the trail from the just announced funding for McLean County Route 66 southward from Bloomington to Shirley (about 3 miles).   Construction on this part is scheduled for next spring.  In a couple of years I hope that these sections will be connected.  Then Bike Route 66 would be all on trail from North Normal to Shirley (estimate 10 miles) and cut the present longer detour route.

Offline bobclay99

Re: Route 66 in IL and beyond!
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2009, 01:08:35 am »
I drove by the Chenoa IL Trail and construction appears to be complete.  It is about 1.0 mile long.  It goes from about 1/10 mile north of Route 24 to the south on the abandoned southbound Old Route 66 pavement.  At the south end there is a nice car parking lot for 20 or so cars.  Another good thing is that there is now a 4-way stop sign at the Route 24 –Route 66 Intersection to make the crossing of Route 24 much safer for bikers.  The trail could easily be extended to the north at very little cost as the abandoned southbound Old 66 lanes run to just south of Pontiac.  This is about 10 miles.  One can even ride on the current abandoned lanes instead of the still used 2 lane route, but there is intermittent grass to cross. 

Besides Chenoa, Lexington has about 3.7 miles of Bike trail along Route 66, Towanda has about 3 miles, and Bloomington-Normal 5.3 miles (plus 1.8 miles on current route likely to be rerouted as Constitution Trail gets extended).  Bloomington has a 0.8 mile extension under construction and McLean County has been funded and construction scheduled for Spring 2010 an added 3 miles.  Thus by next year 18.6 miles of the Route 66 Bike Route of the approximate 66 (ironic #) Miles in McLean County will be on off road trail. This would be 28% of the route and even higher % of the shortcut route.  Progress is happening on Bike Route 66 .