BLOOMINGTON — An extension for the Historic Route 66 Bike Trail cleared another hurdle Tuesday with the McLean County Board’s decision to support applying for funding.
The county will apply for an Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant to add a 2.51-mile section from County Highway 29 in Towanda north to where the old alignment of Route 66 ends.
The total cost of the project is $1 million, but the county would be responsible for only $49,800.
Bloomington and Normal have already pledged support for the project. The state is picking up 80 percent of the tab.
Several County Board members expressed concerns about spending money for a project that not everyone would use.
“Here we are accepting money from the federal government and we hear on a daily basis that it has no real money,” board member John Butler said. “We are buying ourselves a $50,000 bill and continued maintenance on our share of the path. I am in favor of bike trails but think they should be built and financed by local action.”
Board member George Wendt agreed.
“I think it is time we stop accepting money from the federal government for something we have to provide additional maintenance for,” he said.
But the measure passed by a 15-3 vote, and several members said the bike trails benefit the community in various ways.
“We are talking about an enhancement for the community and the benefits of an extension of a bike trail may show up in other areas,” said board member George Gordon.
“This is a great investment for our community,” said board member Sondra O’Connor.
“There is an old saying about being pound foolish and a penny saved. Well, we would look like idiots if we turned this down.”