Rockford applying for new bike path grant, but not all residents are on board

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Forest City officials continue drafting plans to make it safer to travel on two wheels. Traffic engineers are applying for a grant to fund a bike path on Highcrest Road in Rockford.

However, residents along the potential trail say they’re not all supportive of the extra room to ride.

“This is kind of an alternative that would allow for a much-needed East/West connection,” said Jeremy Carter, a traffic engineer for the City of Rockford.

Rockford bicyclists could soon have a safer route when riding on one of the city’s narrowest roadways.

“Bicyclists could currently use Highcrest if they wanted to, they’re allowed to ride in the street, but we believe this would provide a more comfortable and safer alternative,” Carter said.

The city plans to apply for a grant that would partially fund a multi-use path. The trail would extend for two miles on the south side of Highcrest Road from Spring Creek Road to Alpine.

“If awarded, this is going to bring 2.5 million dollars in taxpayer money, back to the community to be spent on a high-quality product,” added Carter.

During a virtual open house on Wednesday night, many area residents voiced concerns over losing part of their property to make room for the 17 foot-wide path. Carter says that won’t be the case for most homeowners.

“Over 90% of the project, there’s enough ride of way to make these accommodations without having to acquire anyone’s personal property,” he said.

Residents have also suggested the money be spent on other projects like road repairs. But Carter says the grant can only be used on specific tasks like the multi-use path.

“This money is funded through these types of projects from the state of Illinois, if Rockford doesn’t get the grant, it’s going to be spent somewhere else in Illinois. Bringing taxpayer money back to be used on a great project like this is something we’re very excited about,” Carter said.

The city will know if it will be awarded the grant next spring. If funding is secured, construction would likely begin within the next few years.

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