Durbin, Duckworth Announce $480,000 In Funding From National Scenic Byways Program For Illinois Department Of Transportation

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced $480,000 in grant funding awarded to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) through the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) for the rehabilitation and enhancement of the Gilbert Lake Division of the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge. National Scenic Byways or All-American Byways provide historic, recreational, cultural, archeological, and natural benefits to the state of Illinois and to those traveling on Illinois roadways. Illinois is home to seven nationally designated Scenic Byways. 

“Gilbert Lake is home to some of the most incredible wildlife and hiking in Illinois,” said Durbin. “This federal funding will improve the experience for visitors of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway while spurring economic growth for Jersey County and surrounding regions.”

“Illinois’s scenic byways should be in the best shape possible so those who use them every day can feel confident they’re driving on safe, historic and picturesque roads,” said Duckworth. “Thanks to this federal support, our state can continue doing the upkeep required to help ensure Illinois’s seven byways are preserved parts of American history and culture.”

The Gilbert Lake Division of the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge is a 735-acre natural area that runs parallel with the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway for approximately 2.5 miles in Jersey County. This project would include rehabilitating and enhancing the existing 10-car trailhead Gilbert Lake Parking area, improving the 0.4-mile Scenic Byway highway turnout, which serves as a wildlife viewing area and additional trailhead, and improving the 1.25-mile Duncan Farm Hiking Trail to increase accessibility and reduce long-term maintenance.

Created in 1991, DOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FWHA) administers the NSBP to help recognize, preserve, and enhance selected roads throughout the United States. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which Durbin supported, included $16 million for the NSBP, the first Congressional appropriations for the program since 2012, and directed FHWA to make new NSBP designations. The recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 provides an additional $6 million for the NSBP.

Illinois’ seven Scenic Byways include:  

1. Great River Road

2. Historic National Road

3. Historic Route 66

4Illinois Lincoln Highways

5. Illinois River Road

6Meeting of the Great Rivers

7. Ohio River Scenic Byway