By Dave Fidlin


It is moving slow, but it is moving forward.

Larissa Gallagher, a Union Grove resident instrumental in the Rails to Trails program, made this assertion recently as she gave an update on the effort, which has been multiple years in the making.

In 2016, village officials expressed interest in converting an abandoned rail line into a path accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians.

The area eyed for Rails to Trails is an old Soo Line, which had run from Kansasville within the Town of Dover to Sturtevant. The line was decommissioned nearly five years ago.

Gallagher provided an update on Rails to Trails at a Community Development Authority meeting March 20.

“There’s a lot of stuff in the works,” said Gallagher, who is a CDA member.

Recent efforts, she said, have included acquiring nearby land from the state Department of Natural Resources and cleanup efforts in and near the former track areas.

Village Administrator Mark Janiuk, who was not at the helm of municipal operations when discussions around Rails to Trails began in 2016, lauded the plans underway. But he also expressed tentative concerns at last week’s meeting.

While a plan for the creation of the trails is in place, Janiuk said he was concerned the village might be on the hook for maintaining the portion through Union Grove once upkeep is needed.

Gallagher, in response, said her group would be overseeing the long-range maintenance of the path. In the immediate road ahead, she said the plan is to transition her enthusiastic group into a full-fledged 5013c nonprofit organization.

“Our group will eventually develop into a friends group,” she said.

In addition to the benefits of promoting health and wellness, Gallagher in 2016 said the virtues of Rails to Trails extend far beyond Union Grove itself.

Eventually, plans call for linking the path to an existing trail system in far western Racine County, near Burlington and Waterford, and give pedestrians and bicyclists an opportunity to enjoy a safe path to the Lake Michigan shoreline in Racine.