Trail Recreation Effingham County (TREC) continues to progress toward its goals of linking Effingham with both Teutopolis and Lake Sara.
Monday, the TREC board voted unanimously to commit to providing local matching funds for Phase 3 of the project — a 2 mile segment running from the south end of Nazarene Church Road to a point not far from the Lake Sara dam.
“This is really a milestone project for us,” said TREC board President Frank Brummer. “The two things TREC has always wanted to do is connect Lake Sara with Effingham and Effingham with Teutopolis.
“This project enables us to achieve part of those goals.”
The engineer’s estimate for Phase 3 was about $1.35 million. But Effingham County Engineer Greg Koester said AJ Walker Construction of Mattoon submitted a bid of slightly more than $1.1 million, or 18 percent under the original estimate.
“This should be an easy bid for IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) to approve,” Koester said.
Eighty percent of the project will be funded by an Illinois Transportation Enhancement Grant, with the other 20 percent coming from local sources. Brummer said the local match would be somewhere around $225,000.
While several fundraising efforts are planned in the next few months, TREC has secured a letter of credit from Crossroads Bank in case fundraising efforts fall short.
Construction could begin as early as mid-September. IDOT engineer Maureen Kastl told the board it was likely Phase 3 would be completed by next summer.
Also Monday, Brummer reported that a quarter-mile segment of the trail that parallels U.S. 40 near Effingham High School is almost complete. That project was funded by money left over from the Raney Street Overpass project of more than a decade ago.
“It’s a really nice asset to our system,” said board member Larry Micenheimer.
The board also received updates on the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 57-70 near the Fayette Avenue exit. Brummer said that project should be completed sometime this fall.
“That will be a nice billboard for Effingham,” said board member Dan Woods.
Brummer said the city’s tourism bureau has told him the TREC system is the second-most asked about attraction in the county. The first, he said, is the Firefly grill.
Now that Phase 3 is through the planning stages, TREC is beginning to start on Phase 4 that would connect the Calico Road portion of the trail with Fayette Avenue, using the new pedestrian bridge over the interstate.
Woods reported that TREC is seeking another Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant to finance striping of many Effingham streets for bicycle lanes. Brummer said that project would be a boon for cyclists and motorists alike.
“Striping slows down the traffic flow,” Brummer said.
Micenheimer said the striping was badly needed in a city brimming with bicycle traffic.
“There’s more people out there on bikes than I can ever remember,” he said.