The Active Transportation Alliance — Chicagoland’s nonprofit biking, walking and transit advocacy organization — commends Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois Department of Transportation for announcing nearly $90 million in federal transportation money for the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP). For nearly 20 years, ITEP has provided critical funds for improving transportation safety, alternative modes of transportation and quality of life in Illinois communities.
Approximately $49 million will go to bicycle projects, which is the largest pool of money ever awarded to improve bicycling in Illinois through ITEP. The Chicago region alone will receive approximately $45 million for active transportation improvements.
“Everyone wins with this funding announcement,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “We’re very excited that important projects like the Burnham Greenway, Veterans Memorial Trail and a cycle track pilot project on Chicago’s South Side will receive money.”
Burke explained that a cycle track is a type of bikeway, common in many other countries, that separates bikes and cars. Burke said the Chicago Department of Transportation is taking a bold step in building the first cycle track in the region on Stony Island Avenue.
“Large and small projects around Chicagoland now have financial backing to improve opportunities and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Burke.
Among the projects Active Trans supported, the Calumet-Sag Trail will receive $2.8 million to fund its final engineering phase and its construction costs.
“This is a big leap toward completing the 26-mile Calumet-Sag Trail,” said Steve Buchtel, Southland coordinator for the Active Transportation Alliance. When completed in 2012, the trail will connect 14 communities and a handful of regional trail systems, said Buchtel.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Congress asked the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to rescind almost $80 million in transportation projects. After a request from Active Trans, IDOT carried out full funding for this round of ITEP money.
In addition to pushing for two Calumet-Sag Trail projects, Active Trans worked closely with successful ITEP awardees in Skokie, Wheeling and Lincolnwood. The organization also partnered with the Will County Forest Preserve District to ensure funding for the Veterans Memorial Trail.
The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that works to make bicycling, walking and public transit. It is North America’s largest transportation advocacy organization, supported by nearly 6,000 members, 1,000 volunteers and 35 full-time staff. For more information on the Active Transportation Alliance, visit www.activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325.
- Interview with Ron Burke, the new executive director of Active Transportation Alliance (timeoutny.com)