By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
    An eight-mile bike trail linking Troy and O’Fallon should be wrapped up by the end of 2018, giving recreationists another means of enjoying the Madison County Transit District trail network.
    MCT Managing Director Jerry Kane said the last several years have been spent putting together the project, beginning in June 2007 when MCT and the Metro East Park and Recreation District executed an intergovernmental agreement that called for MCT to be the entity to develop, own and maintain the project. The park district, which covers both Madison and St. Clair counties, had identified the project as desirable, but the district itself did not have the necessary power of eminent domain.
    “At that time, MCT had a 15-year history of success in developing over 100 miles of trails and was the only local entity willing to use its power of eminent domain,” Kane said.
    The alignment required land that was mainly right of way from the Norfolk Southern Railroad and a handful of properties from private owners. Eminent domain was required on about eight parcels. Only one owner required a jury case to decide the valuation of the property.
    The entire project is valued at $9.879 million. The park district is shouldering 100 percent of the cost. It is using three federally funded Illinois Transportation Enhancement Protection grants, which pay 80/20, with the park district required to pay 20 percent; an Illinois Department of Natural Resources OSLAD grant (Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development); and some money from St. Clair County Transit.
    The project is expected to be done in December 2018. Some 5.39 miles of the trail is in Madison County. The remaining 2.83 miles is in St. Clair County.
    Kane provided this description of the path, which mostly follows a north-south alignment. To reach the start of the new trail:
    Head south on The Goshen Trail, crossing a bridge over Illinois Route 162 (near Old Troy Road). About 100 yards away, the Schoolhouse trail and Goshen Trail intersect. Schoolhouse Trail veers to the right, heading west, and the Goshen Trail continues to the south and dead ends on a frontage road just north of Interstate 55-70. That first part of the Goshen Trail is the actual beginning of the Troy-to-O’Fallon project.
    The planned trail will cross the frontage road on the north side of I-55 and go under the interstate following Wilson Heights Road before crossing another frontage road on the south side of the interstate and turning east on Mary Mae Road. From that point begins the bulk of the trail construction where it heads south, following the abandoned railroad alignment. The center line of the railroad splits Jarvis Township on the east and Collinsville Township to the west.
    The trail eventually ends on Kyle Road north of O’Fallon. Along the way from Troy, it crosses Bethel Road and at points runs alongside Simmons and Witte roads.