Gateway East Trails looking for more members

Gateway East Trails (GET) is looking for more hands to help in its cause to bring more bike and walk trails in this area.

“We can always use more active, working members,” said Robert Wilhelm, president of GET, a non-profit corporation based in Lebanon and started in 2010.

Years of hard work and persistence culminated in the opening of GET’s first completed bike route, the Trestle Trail, which begins at the end of East McAllister Street in Lebanon and runs for a quarter mile into Lebanon Township. Now bikers and walkers can exit Lebanon to the north, east, and south without navigating dangerous Highway 4 and 50.

“It took a small group of dedicated guys eight years to make that bike trail happen, and we are all proud the hard work paid off,” said Wilhelm. “With more help with raising funds and helping with fundraisers, I truly believe more can be accomplished – and within less time.”

The group’s next project is to develop a trail to the west to connect Lebanon with O’Fallon. Tentatively called the Trolley Tail, this proposed trail will follow a long-abandoned rail/trolley line parallel to US Route 50 from a point north of the intersection of Belleville Street in Lebanon and US Route 50. The trail is designed to travel west mostly along the former rail line to Rieder Road north of US Route 50.

“It’s an ambitious project,” admitted Wilhelm. “It will take nearly $3 million to make it happen, along with cooperation from those in the immediate area of this proposed trail. If we can connect Lebanon to O’Fallon so that walkers and bikers can safely walk and ride from O’Fallon to Lebanon, this would be tremendous for one and all, I believe. By this proposed trail, bikers and walkers will have the ability to safely bike and walk to trails that will eventually link St. Clair County trails to Madison County Transit Trails. That would be just tremendous.”

In an effort to raise funds for the project, GET is betting on its annual Tour de Stooges bike ride to help its cause. Registration for the May 4, 2019 event begins January 1, 2019.  Riders can choose one of five routes, ranging from 14 to 100 miles. Entrance fee is $35, which includes a meal afterwards at McKendree University. For more information, or to register, go to www.tourdestooges.org.

“We could certainly use more members to help ease the load that is on just a few,” said Wilhelm. “They say ‘The more, the merrier.’ I’d like to think that’s true.

If interested in joining GET, Wilhelm asks that you email info@gatewayeasttrails.org or call 618-444-4481. Wilhelm asks that you leave a name and number should no one answer the phone.

“This is not just a Lebanon group,” stressed Wilhelm. “If you are an avid walker or biker, we ask you to join.” 

GET meets the second Thursday of each month, 7:30 p.m., at Ron’s Lounge in Lebanon.