Governor Quinn and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced on January 30 that the City of Evanston was awarded a $580,000 grant to rehabilitate the multiuse trail at Ladd Arboretum. The latest round of funding through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) will support more than 54 projects, including bike paths, walking trails, historic preservation and streetscape beautification projects in communities across Illinois.

The ITEP is a federally-funded, competitive program that encourages transportation-related enhancement projects in a variety of categories. ITEP funds provide up to 80% financial assistance with the construction and rehabilitation of public non-motorized transportation improvements. The city’s match for the project is $145,000.

“This major investment in community transportation projects throughout Illinois will help improve the quality of life for everyone,” Governor Quinn said. “These projects will create hundreds of jobs while preserving our heritage, beautifying communities and creating new transportation options across our state for pedestrians, bicyclists, and others. I want to thank our Congressional delegation for securing the funds so that we can reinvest them back into our cities, towns and counties.”

“Over the years, funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure has improved street safety and quality of living in Illinois communities,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “Incorporating bike paths, bike lanes and sidewalks into the transportation system encourages physical activity and healthy lifestyles by providing a safe place to walk, jog and bike close to home. And [this] announcement by Governor Quinn ensures that these federal funds will be spent creating jobs in Illinois communities.”

“The Ladd Arboretum is a 17-acre parcel of land along the North Shore Channel that is leased by the City of Evanston from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago,” explained Doug Gaynor, Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services for the City of Evanston. “The arboretum was proposed in the 1950s, with the first tree being planted in 1960. It is a highly utilized educational and recreational resource, hosting summer camps, canoeing, cycling and pedestrian use.”

The Ladd Arboretum Master Plan was adopted by the City Council in September 2007. The Master Plan includes numerous reconstruction and rehabilitation projects, including the reconstruction of trails throughout the arboretum. The Ladd Arboretum’s multiuse trail is also an important bike path identified in the City’s Bike Plan and provides key connections to and through neighborhoods.

“The arboretum’s existing trails were constructed between 1960 and 1961 and since that time have received minimal capital investment. Presently the trails are in a deteriorated state and due to poor drainage conditions are often unusable in inclement weather,” added Director Gaynor. “This issue is of particular concern, as some children walking to and from Haven and Kingsley Schools use the trail and are unable to stay on the path during poor weather due to the existing trail’s poor condition. Trail reconstruction will help mitigate this issue and provide students, along with other non-motorized travelers, with a new and modern multiuse trail.”