Some wonderful breaking news out of Illinois today with the announcement that, 20 years since the dream was first dreamed, the land has been purchased for the proposed Kickapoo Rail Trail in Champaign County.
"The acquisition of the old CSX rail corridor is official," announces the Champaign County Forest Preserve District (CCFPD) website. CCFPD led the purchase of a 12.7 mile portion of the rail line from East Urbana to the Vermilion County line, an acquisition was made possible by a mix of local, state and federal funds.
Even more exciting for locals - it shouldn't be long before actual construction on the corridor begins.
Funds are already in hand to begin development of the new trail, thanks to a Transportation Alternatives grant (formerly Transportation Enhancements). The next step is to complete the purchase of the portion of the corridor that runs from the border of Vermilion and Champaign counties east to Kickapoo State Park.
According to Steve Rugg, current chair of the CCDC Board of Directors, CSX deserve credit for being a generous partner in the project. Rugg says the sale price of $1,208,550 million ($600,000 for the Champaign County portion) is below the appraised value for the property as CSX agreed to make a donation of the difference in the purchase price and the appraised value.
"We appreciate CSX's willingness to complete the deal at this level," he says. "They've recognized the public benefit of a project like this while still receiving a measure of compensation for their asset. Everyone's a winner."
RTC's Midwest Region Office worked closely with CCDC in their negotiations with CSX over many years, and we are all very pleased to see them close the deal. To all the people who undoubtedly have been working behind the scenes over the past two decades to bring this wonderful project to fruition, our heartiest thanks and congratulations! Another great trail soon to be added to our nation's rail-trail network!
More information about the trail will be provided as plans develop. If you'd like to learn more about the Kickapoo Trail, contact the CCFPD at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217.586.3360.