OAKWOOD, Ill. (WCIA) — An early-20th century railroad bridge may reopen to traffic by next summer.
Pedestrian and bike traffic, that is.
In July, crews began working on improvments to the sub-structure of the old Possum Trot trestle bridge that spans the Middle Fork Vermilion River.
Built in 1921 for the Peoria and Eastern Railroad, the quarter-mile overpass is being revitalized as part of the Vermilion County side of the Kickapoo Rail Trail.
This trail section is managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and connects to Kickapoo State Park via the entrance road to the Vermilion County Fairgrounds.
Superintendent Tim Edison says the decking is being hauled out onto the bridge with a front loader, one slab at a time. He says their goal is to finish this trail section by next July.
Earlier this summer, he says park roads were repaved and crews started work on the bridge and the sub-base of the trail.
In the spring, Edison says they plan on breaking ground on a new trailhead for the project. It will have a kiosk facility, with a parking lot and restrooms.
He says it’s located by an old coal loading site, just west of the bridge off of U.S. Route 150.
“The rail-trail is going to be a great compliment to Kickapoo,” says Edison. “It really adds on to our current mountain bike system, which is almost 25 miles. Kickapoo Adventures utilizes the Middle Fork river for tubing and canoeing. They also rent bikes, which people will be able to actually rent out and use on the rail trail and also the mountain bike trails.
“For bikers, this is going to be great. For outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, it’s going to be great. It offers something central Illinois really needs recreation-wise.”