The makings of the Urbana-to-Kickapoo rail trail

Read the full story in Smile Politely.

For over twenty years, plans have been in the works to transform a 24.5 mile section of abandoned railroad between eastern Urbana and Kickapoo State Park into a recreational trail. Once completed, this trail would provide a safe place for Champaign and Vermilion County citizens to walk, run, and ride their bikes, as well as promote the local economy through increased tourism and outdoor activity.

In the 1990s, the Champaign County Conservation and Design Foundation and the Champaign County Forest Preserve began negotiations to acquire the land needed to begin this project, but unfortunately met with some unexpected setbacks.

The company who owned the property, Conrail, had originally planned to donate the land to the cause, but was then dissolved. CSX Corp then came into ownership of the property, and negotiations had to begin anew.

Now, in 2013, negotiations have finally reached a conclusion and the section of railroad in Champaign County has been successfully purchased. At the time of this writing, the Vermilion County Conservation District has yet to purchase their portion of the trail, but it appears as though development will soon be underway.

President Steve Rugg of the Champaign County Design and Conservation Foundation generously agreed to an interview to discuss the trail project, the CCDC, and environmental awareness in Champaign County.

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