DIAMOND – More than 200 children living in the Diamond Estates and Farmstone subdivisions in Diamond will travel a safer route to school thanks to a newly-funded bike path.
The village was recently awarded more than $160,000 from the Illinois Department of Transportation to construct the path, which will connect the subdivisions to existing sidewalks in Coal City school district’s Safe Routes to School travel plan.
“This is the perfect grant for us so we can make this project happen,” Diamond Mayor Terry Kernc said. “We have truly embraced the Safe Routes to School in Diamond.”
The asphalt path will be about 1,600 feet long, beginning at Amber Lane, running north and east to the Claypool Drainage Ditch and continuing on to McGinty Street. The path will include a wooden foot bridge across the drainage ditch for easier crossing.
The total project will cost about $200,000 with the remaining $40,000 to be funded through local matching.
Constructing the bike path was made a priority last year after a resident complained to the Village Board that children in Diamond Estates had no safe routes to walk or bike to school.
“That made me realize that we needed to move this project along faster and look for some grants,” said Kernc, who applied for the winning grant last August.
Diamond was one of several communities awarded grant money through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program – a federally-funded, competitive program that encourages transportation-related projects.
In all, the state issued $52.7 million in ITEP funds for local transportation projects, such as the bike path in Diamond.
Kernc said the goal is to connect all the neighborhoods in the village with safe and scenic biking and walking paths.
The village of Coal City and Coal City Community Unit School District 1 applied for a separate grant that would add new sidewalks throughout the district.
“We want to encourage our kids to walk or bike to school in a safe way,” Superintendent Kent Bugg said. “[The bike path] only enhances that opportunity for us.”
The main purpose of the path is providing a safe route for school children, but Kernc said everyone is encouraged to enjoy the new bike path.
“We want people to be able to also go safely to our commercial quarter on [Route 113],” Kernc said.
The grant was awarded last week so the village is still in the process of finalizing contracts with IDOT, but Kernc said the village hopes to have the path completed by the end of this year.
“Once it gets started, I think it will get done quickly,” Kernc said. “We want to have it ready for everyone’s enjoyment as soon as possible.”