$244,000 grant will fund transportation desert survey in Lee, Ogle County

The planning and research grant is among the $11.4 million IDOT will distribute in the form of 30 grants.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:15 PM CDT
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DIXON, Ill. (WIFR) - Finding transportation deserts in Lee and Ogle Counties is the goal of a $244,000 grant just awarded to Lee-Ogle Transportation Services (LOTS) by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The grant will be used to identify and then help areas often overlooked.

The planning and research grant is among the $11.4 million IDOT will distribute to 30 projects across the state.

“I think it’s our due diligence to make sure serve as many people as we can with that public service of getting, you know, mom and dad or other members of the family to those community services that they have a need to get to,” said Greg Gates, LOTS executive director.

Using various resources, leaders will basically go on a hunt to identify areas that lack transportation options like buses, cars, sidewalks or taxis. Experts say those barriers keep people from accessing necessities like food and medical care.

“It’s vital just for the overall independence for individuals that are in these communities, said Marcus Cox, LOTS operations assistant director. “This will give them that way of ensuring them that sense of independence for whatever it is they need to do in their daily lives.”

Gates says the research and planning stages will last a couple of months but people who live in transportation deserts should see a change no later than Jan. 1.

“We want to make sure those individuals in those smaller communities within our counties are able to get that transportation access that they are looking for,” Cox said.

This study is for transportation needs overall, which includes public transit and multi-use paths for walking or biking.

“In some cases, in the household, there may be only a single vehicle that mom or dad is potentially using to get to work so how does that isolate from the rest of the family getting to school or somewhere else in the community,” Gates said.