PRINCETON — Princeton City Council has committed funds in support of a pedestrian access improvement project that involves building a 10-foot-wide sidewalk from Beck’s North to Shell Gas Station, near Interstate 80.
The city is applying for an 80/20 Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) grant, that if awarded to Princeton next spring, would pay for 80% of the project roughly estimated to cost $574,000. The city would be responsible for 20% of the project cost.
This is the second ITEP grant the city has applied for in the past three years. In 2017, the city applied for $1.5 million to assist with new lighting on South Main Street and revitalizing the Princeton train depot area and park area, known today as Rotary Park. It was denied that grant.
While it’s been a goal of the city to eventually lay sidewalk that extends all the way to City-County Park, City Manager Theresa Wittenauer said this strip of sidewalk would be one link in getting to the park. She said there are other grants available through Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Natural Resources that could assist with sidewalk extensions to the park.
Within the past few years, the city had applied for an IDNR grant to pay for sidewalk from the truck stop the park, but was denied that grant. Mayor Joel Quiram commented that there were a lot of issues in that area and more utilities than expected. Wittenauer said there was also push and pull between IDOT and IDNR during that previous grant process. The issue from back then has since been resolved, which would make it more favorable for Princeton to try again at applying for grants to assist with sidewalk in that area.
The sidewalk between Beck’s North and Shell would be located on the east side of Route 26. A cross walk would connect Beck’s North to the current Midland State’s Bank Branch. The sidewalk would continue to pass over Backbone Road and run in front of Sullivan’s Foods, Heartland Bank and Trust, cross over Ace Road, run in front of Casey’s General Store, McDonald’s and just past Shell gas station, stopping near the entrance to the Subway restaurant.
Wittenauer had sat down with Chamlin & Associates and originally looked at a plan that would include sidewalks on both sides of Route 26 between that stretch. It was a $1 million project that she had engineers break down to be more affordable.
“This would be the route that’s most feasible,” she said. “There’s going to be more due diligence and they’re going to get more photos of people on bikes up there and letters of support are coming in now for this.”
She said the Bike/Pedestrian Commission is really excited about this opportunity and will help with raising money to alleviate the city’s portion. In-kind donations can be submitted toward this project. Wittenauer is also taking letters of support for the project. She admitted the project cost is “a little scary” but the more donations to help alleviate costs, the better.
Council member Ray Mabry, who sits in on the Bike/Pedestrian Commission meetings as a representative of the city council, said it sounds like a good project.
“Obviously we wouldn’t be spending this kind of money if we couldn’t get the 80%,” he said.
If the city is awarded this grant next spring, funds to pay for the project would be budgeted next fiscal year.