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Grundy County will assist Minooka in getting bike path

MINOOKA – Grundy County will contribute $100,000 to the construction of a Minooka bicycle path along McEvilly Road.

This is a first for Grundy County, which has allowed several local bike paths, but has never funded one.

“This will be the first one we’ve helped pay for,” Grundy County engineer Craig Cassem said Monday. “It’s a village initiative we are supporting mainly for safety reasons.”

The Grundy County Highway Committee agreed Friday to allot motor fuel tax fund money for the path after Minooka Village Administrator Dan Duffy provided a project overview to the committee. The Grundy County Board is expected to approve the expenditure at next week’s County Board meeting.

The village will begin construction on the path by spring 2015, Duffy said.

The half-mile path will be located near the intersection of Bell and McEvilly roads, an infamous location among local bicyclists and walkers aware of how dangerous it can be for pedestrians.

“If you’ve been at that intersection, right at the intersection, there’s a hill and it’s tough to see in either direction,” Duffy told the committee Friday. “When you come up over that hill, it’s tough to see foot traffic or bike traffic.”

Minooka has worked on the path for about eight years, but Duffy said the project was made a priority in 2011 after Kelsey Little, a teenager from Minooka, was severely injured after being struck by a pickup truck while walking on McEvilly Road.

Minooka Community High School, Minooka Junior High, Lions Park and Minooka Creamery are all located on McEvilly making it a road heavily trafficked by local teens.

Knowing that, Duffy said the village decided to put the path in near McEvilly and Bell roads, although it will cost the village slightly more money.

“Kids are going to go the fastest way to where they are going, which is the creamery or the school, so we figured we might as well put it on McEvilly Road,” Duffy said.

Will County is anticipated to contribute another $100,000 to the project since half of the bike path will be in its jurisdiction.

About $478,000, the bulk of project costs, is covered through a federal grant awarded to Minooka specifically for construction of the bike path.

The village is kicking in an additional $159,000, but Duffy said there is an opportunity for additional grant funds – in the amount of $238,000 – which Minooka is applying for.

If awarded, the additional money would lessen the funding burden for Grundy and Will counties, meaning Grundy County’s final contribution could be significantly less than $100,000.

The path would cut through the property of two Minooka landowners, but Duffy said they are cooperating with the village.

“Both were actually excited to have this happen,” Duffy said. “They want to see some kind of walking path go through there, as well.”

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