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Illinois River Road Will Use Grants to Fuel Tourism


The Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway agency will receive two federal grants to encourage more visitors to come to central Illinois.

A $70,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will be used to create audio narratives of attractions along the road.

Agency director Anaise Berry says the grant will allow the agency to write an interpretive plan to promote historical sites.

She says, “We'll be very dependent upon those who live in the region and have these stories to share and this information to help us put together some compelling stories for visitors.”

Berry says it will be an opportunity for volunteers to share their experiences and knowledge of the region in their own voice. The audio narratives will be produced for the agency's website. They will be available for download to devices such as smartphones and mp3 players. Berry says the audio “snapshots” will give a preview of the attractions.

The agency will also split a $271,000 grant with six other scenic byways.

Berry says 24 bike racks will be installed along the 291 mile Illinois River Road. The bike racks will have byway logos and QR codes. The codes will allow smartphone users to quickly find out about nearby businesses such as restaurants, stores and bike trails.

Berry says scenic byways are about “getting off the beaten path.” The bike racks will make the journey friendlier for bicylcists who,she says,  are becoming "a big part of our demographic and target market.”

Berry says increased fuel costs have make bicycle trips very popular in the area.