Urbana uses funds to improve transportation, expand art projects

August signals the return of students to campus — and bikes. Bike lanes and paths may seem customary on a college campus, but in Urbana, they are also a part of the Bike Urbana initiative which helped the city earn the label of a Bike Friendly Community (BFC) this summer.

At the July 17 Farmer’s Market, the city of Urbana was distinguished as a BFC.

The city consistently moves to increase the opportunities to travel by bicycle around town, and this summer, another trail was approved by the Urbana City Council (UCC) in July.

The path was one of the controversial aspects of the 2010-2011 budget which was passed back in June. After passing the budget, the Cunningham Township Board reconsidered the construction of a bike path on High Cross Road to serve the eastern highway corridor of Urbana. The plan has been under consideration for about five years, and was finally approved after the path’s plan was altered to run far shorter than originally designed.

It will not be installed until 2011, but the approval is great news to Bike Urbana representative Jennifer Selby.

“I think that the side path will be good on High Cross Road because it is a pretty busy street — 55 mph on two lanes of traffic which will eventually be widened,” Selby said.

In addition to being bike friendly, Urbana is also active with art.

Art at the Market was held on the last Saturday of each month, the June project involving bat houses and origami bats.

The origami bats were an artful way to teach residents about bat houses, which were installed in Urbana in the past few months as a project by Brett Bloom and Bonnie Fortune, funded by the art grant program of the city.

The city of Urbana is able to fund many projects, although this year they did not receive the money that the University of Illinois typically pays them.

As a way to cover some of the costs of road repair, the city installed a motor fuel tax of two cents. The City Council spent several hours in session discussing the fuel tax, and continues to make changes to the language of the ordinance.

“We’ve had roads for way longer than we’ve had motor vehicles — the tax system always has to adjust to what is going on,” Prussing said. “It’s not always made in advance.”

UI senior John Malato hopes that the tax’s income will be used to fix the “bumpy roads” in Urbana.

“I don’t know if they can do something about those bricks, because I don’t really like the brick streets,” Malato said. “They are kind of hard to drive on.”