Governor J.B. Pritzker, along with the Illinois Department of Transportation, has announced the second of a total of six $250 million grants for local transportation projects.
The Rebuild Illinois capital plan–the largest infrastructure program in Illinois and the first one in almost a decade–will have funds allocated toward counties, townships, and municipalities with important transportation needs. The grant will boost investment into the state’s transit systems and bring safer overall infrastructure.
$40 million of the funds will help build a port in Cairo, which is considered a helpful location in regards to the movement of goods, as it is situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
This particular funding, which was announced this month, will add to a public-private partnership working to create a new inland port. $4 million was released immediately to the Alexander-Cairo Port District to fund site preparation work, in addition to permitting and engineering costs.
“For too long, Illinois has relied on legacy infrastructure investments without tending to them properly to maintain our status as a transportation hub for the nation,” said Pritzker. “Rather than build on our storied history and strong foundation, our critical infrastructure has been allowed to deteriorate. Thanks to dedicated funding in the bipartisan Rebuild Illinois plan, we’re investing in our roads and bridges and cementing our leadership position as a global transportation powerhouse.”
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association notes that 9% of Illinois’ bridges are currently considered to be structurally deficient.
These funds are part of a $1.5 billion grant spread out over the course of three years to support statewide projects. Some of these projects include bridge and road improvements, storm sewer and bike path installations, upgrades to traffic signals, and sidewalk replacements.
All projects are chosen and managed with local IDOT supervision and guidance.
“In Illinois, we don’t have just state or local roads and bridges, but one system of transportation that stretches across all modes and involves multiple partners working together,” said Omer Osman, Acting Transportation Secretary. “This funding through Rebuild Illinois means our cities, neighborhoods, and rural areas have the resources they need during this uncertain time, but also enhances quality of life, encourages additional investment, and improves safety for years to come.”
The Cairo port-funding investment, as well as the local infrastructure grants, come from the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois infrastructure improvement effort initiated in 2019, which plans to fund upgrades and improvements to state roads, bridges, parks, education, transit, historic sites, and clean water infrastructure.
The program is also meant to bring more job opportunities to the state as well as boost overall economic growth.
IDOT is also investing $21.3 billion into road and bridge improvement projects over the next six years through the FY2021-26 Proposed Highway Improvement Program. This is the second multiyear plan that will have as prominent an impact as Rebuild Illinois. $4.7 billion of those funds will be dedicated to local transportation system improvements.
The Proposed Highway Improvement program has outlined an effort that will improve 3,356 miles of roadway throughout the state and 8.4 million square feet of bridge deck.
In May of this year, Rebuild Illinois secured funding for Fast-Track Public Infrastructure Grants, which will work to reboot important public works projects that were paused or abandoned due to insufficient funding. These grants will also help experienced workers return to these projects and begin working once again.
Through this program, Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced that $25 million would be allocated to support these projects.
“We recognize the unique challenge and burdens that COVID-19 is placing on us all, and we are taking steps to provide relief to businesses and communities,” said Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity director, Erin Guthrie. “Through the Fast-Track Public Infrastructure Grants program, the administration will provide a much-needed boost for workers across the state as well as the critical infrastructure projects our state depends on.”