City leaders took to social media recently to encourage residents to support a plan to apply for a grant to conduct one long, pedestrian path between the city of Genoa to the Village of Kingston. The city applied for grants through the Rural Surface Transportation grant program, asking for funds through the federal Infrastructure Bill. Part of that process requires letters of support from residents, business owners, parents, school officials and representatives of local government.
No exact amount has been identified yet for how much construction of a path from Genoa to Kingston would cost, city officials said.
“We’ve just been really keeping an eye on the federal infrastructure bill because there’s been so many grants that have been put out there,” City Administrator Alyssa Seguss said. “This was something we had a project in mind for.”
City officials say they received 119 letters of support from elected officials, residents, school board members and others.
“These letters, they make such a difference, and I’m so thankful that our community stepped up to provide support,” Genoa Mayor Johnathon Brust said.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the grant Genoa leaders are eyeing supports projects to improve and expand surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas. Doing so helps improve safety and reliability of the movement of people and freight, according to the grant proposal.
The 2.8-mile proposed path would parallel the south side of Route 72, cross over the Kishwaukee River and include a walkway below the Canadian National Railroad trestle for safe pedestrian passage, according to the City of Genoa.
“There is almost no room for walking at all,” Brust said. “There is a guard rail and so people actually end up walking beyond the white solid line and are walking in the street. People are driving at 35 mph. It’s very dangerous.”
Brust said he hopes that because Genoa already collected almost 120 letters, including from state officials, their application will be stronger. All the more reason to connect two communities, Genoa and Kingston, which Brust called “sister communities” together, because they share so much. Genoa-Kingston District 424 spans both city and village.
Not being directly connected by any road except one by vehicle is one of the big challenges the two communities face.
“We’ve talked about doing a sidewalk to connect the two communities, not only so it is easier to get to but really from a safety prospective so people aren’t walking along an extremely busy state highway,” Brust said.
Seguss said she agrees with the mayor.
“This is always been something that we have wanted to be able to do and with the federal dollars that are available right now it made it a little bit more feasible,” Seguss said.
City staff are working to draw up preliminary plans with an engineering firm to help map out and identify the estimated costs for grant applications. If approved, the city of Genoa will move forward with formal engineering design plans to build the path.
Brust said they also are actively looking into working hand-in-hand with the Canadian National in effort to gain their support. It’s a process, he said.
“Our goal with this is to give an alternate area for people to walk so they don’t even have to come close to the road,” Brust said.