CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — The Kickapoo Rail Trail in Vermilion County was recently recognized as one of the top projects in the State of Illinois by the Illinois chapter of the American Public Works Association.

The trail was given the honor of being the top transportation project in the less than $5 million category. The project repurposed an abandoned, nearly 100-year-old railroad bridge for recreational use. Now, people in Vermilion County and across the state can walk or bike across it and experience the history for themselves.

“Truly one of those ‘if you build it they will come’ and there’s so many people that come visit that trestle bridge,” said Lara Danzl of the Vermilion County Conservation District. “It’s really bringing in a lot of people from out of our area, the community’s coming out to support it. It’s getting a lot of use by people.”

The bridge deck sits approximately 90 feet above the Middle Fork River; Danzl said it’s a view unavailable anywhere else in the state.

The Kickapoo Trail project has been in the works for nearly three decades, with work finally beginning in 2016. The 6.7-mile phase from Weaver Park in Urbana to St. Joseph, which includes the repurposed bridge, was completed in 2017. Expansion on the trail is planned and will begin this month.

By the time all phases of the trail’s construction are complete, the trail will run from Weaver Park in Urbana to Kickapoo State Park in Danville, a distance of 25 miles.