Damaged portion of Morton Bike Trail needs a permanent fix

Local News

MORTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Repairs are needed for a portion of the Morton Bike Trail, part of the 26-mile Rock Island trail that goes through multiple communities in Central Illinois.

The bike trail starts at the corner of Jackson, Jefferson, and Detroit streets. It is a three-mile trail running west and connecting to E. Peoria River Trail and also has a one-mile extension along Veterans Road, running north from Jackson to Stoneway Drive.

A temporary fix was put up after a storm washed away portions of the trail several years ago, but it has been two years and there is no permanent fix in sight.

“It should be nice and smooth and well-maintained trail, accessible for both not only cyclists but walkers, the disabled,” said Brian Gorsich, volunteer community council chair for National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Gorsich advocates for cycling for people with multiple sclerosis. He said there has been a 200% increase in people using the Rock Island Bike Trail.

“Traffic will all have to stop for a person with an accessibility need to get their device across the trail, which causes a bottleneck. People become frustrated,” he said.

Gorsich said he has tried to make headway for getting the trail fixed, but keeps getting the runaround.

“There was finger-pointing with IDOT and Park Districts [as to] who is responsible for maintaining the trail,” he said.

Cyclist Lisa Preston takes this path a few times a week.

“You’re constantly afraid that you’re going to run into someone on the bike path part. Sometimes, if it’s really crowded, people will try to cut through where it’s broken and it’s very dangerous. I’ve walked there one time and it’s very unstable,” she said.

She said it is an accident waiting to happen.

“It’s a huge safety hazard, it’s our community, it’s a healthy community, it’s a wonderful path that we have, and this is just an area that I don’t know if there’s a plan to fix it. And again, I would just be devastated if I saw someone get hurt,” Preston said.

Paul Wappel, IDOT’s public information officer, sent a response regarding the damaged part of the trail. He said it was causing issues with the road shoulder collapsing, so the guardrail was installed. He said IDOT sent a letter to Morton Park District in April 2019 stating the maintenance of the guardrail is their responsibility.

Morton Park District declined to comment at this time.

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