News

Sugar Grove receives grants for new path and bridge over Blackberry Creek, sidewalk improvements near local school

The village of Sugar Grove was awarded a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program to build a bridge and shared-use path that will provide a safe alternative for those walking or biking to cross Blackberry Creek and link to the Virgil Gilman Trail.

Pedestrians and bicyclists eventually will be able to make their way around Sugar Grove easier and safer thanks to a couple of grants.

The village has been awarded two grants from the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program. One will be used to install sidewalks and replace sidewalks near John Shields Elementary School. The other is for a bridge and shared-use path that will provide a safe alternative for those walking or biking to cross Blackberry Creek.

Tony Speciale, public works director for Sugar Grove, said construction on both projects is expected to begin in 2023.

The sidewalks for safe routes to schools project will allow for the installing of more than 2,900 feet of sidewalk, as well as the replacing of more than 200 feet of sidewalk, near John Shields Elementary School.

Grove Street, Calkins Drive and West Street are some of the main walking areas that have gaps or are completely missing sidewalks. The amount of the award for the project is $204,710. The project aims to increase the safety of students and residents commuting by walking or biking in that area.

Safety is what led former Sugar Grove Mayor Sean Michels to first consider the construction of a Blackberry Creek bridge, giving pedestrians and bicyclists a safe alternative for crossing Blackberry Creek. The only crossing today is at the often-busy – and thus dangerous – Bliss Road.

Now many years later, Sugar Grove will construct about 0.23 miles of 10-foot wide shared-use path thanks to $779,780 in grant funding, as well as financial support and assistance from the Sugar Grove Park District, Kane County Forest Preserve and Sugar Grove Township. Overall, it’s about a $1 million project.

“This wasn’t my baby to start, but it’s a fabulous project,” Sugar Grove Village President Jen Konen said. “The Kane County Forest Preserve didn’t want to be part of any kind of a maintenance agreement, but we don’t want to lose out on the benefits for the residents. The county’s position is that the bridge isn’t tying regional paths together, but that it’s basically helping neighbors in Sugar Grove.”

Monica Myers, executive director of the Kane County Forest Preserve, acknowledged its involvement is limited to funding.

“We’ll do an easement agreement so they have access to the forest preserve and to be able to connect over the creek,” Myers said. “It’s really the village that’s doing the project. They’re the ones that want to put the bridge in to get the local community over the creek and onto the trail.”

A maintenance agreement will need to be worked out between the village, park district and township moving forward.

Tom Rowe, supervisor for Sugar Grove Township, said the four taxing bodies each contributed $25,000 for Phase 1 engineering of the project and that each would fund the remainder of their respective share once the maintenance agreement was finalized.