Government and Politics
March 30, 2023From: Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker
DECATUR — Governor JB Pritzker joined state and local leaders along with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) today to announce a nearly $200 million investment in 22 projects that will improve the movement of freight throughout the state, creating jobs and economic opportunity while enhancing safety and local quality of life. Administered by IDOT using federal funds, the Illinois Competitive Freight Program is designed to implement the goals of the Illinois State Freight Plan. Successful proposals were ranked based on the plan's goals: increasing safety, improving reliability, and boosting intermodal connections and commerce at the local level.
"For the last four years, we've invested billions of dollars in communities across Illinois to restore and renew all modes of transportation throughout our state: roads, bridges, airports, and transit, as well as pedestrian and bike routes. And today, I'm proud to announce yet another leap forward — nearly $200 million for the freight routes that have defined Illinois for generations," said Governor JB Pritzker. "These funds will be used for 22 port, rail, and highway projects in Illinois to address bottlenecks, increase mobility, and improve the supply chain up and down the state."
Every year, 1.6 billion tons valued at $2.5 trillion of freight flows in and out of the state, making Illinois one of the top three states for freight activity. Today's announcement was made in Decatur, where a $10 million award to the city is the last funding piece needed for a $75 million project to build a Brush College Road overpass at Faries Parkway and the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The project separates the tracks from regular vehicle traffic, eliminating a notorious bottleneck next to the Midwest Inland Port.
Other projects in the state receiving the $197.5 million in awards include: $40 million for capacity improvements at the Illinois 17 interchange with Interstate 57 in Kankakee, $4.3 million for congestion and safety upgrades at the Kaskaskia Regional Port District, $7.2 million for expanding three interstate rest areas to add 122 parking spaces for commercial trucks and $18.8 million for a new Illinois 50 bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
Click here for a complete list of projects and awards.
"Freight drives the Illinois economy in our role as the transportation hub of North America," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. "Under Gov. Pritzker, IDOT is committed to improving freight movement locally, ultimately making Illinois more competitive in the global marketplace."
In Decatur, the $10 million award will leverage additional public and private resources to remove a crossing that averages almost 200 trains a week, blocking traffic for 17 hours while creating congestion and impeding first responders. The project is necessary for the eventual reconstruction of 1.2 miles of Brush College Road, with additional capacity and safety enhancements near major regional employers ADM and Primient.
"This project has been a long time coming, with the City, Macon County, and business & labor partners joining together to make this a priority," said Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe. "Thanks to Gov. Pritzker and IDOT Secretary Osman, this grant bridges the funding gap and turns this priority into a reality. From the union workers who will build this, to the plant workers in our industrial sector, to students at Richland, along with new business that are building here, our community will benefit greatly from this overpass, and we can't wait to see it completed."
"Railroad operating employees know all too well that the overwhelming amount of fatalities and injuries in our industry occur at railroad grade crossings or are due to trespassing events," said Robert W. Guy, State Director, Illinois Legislative Board, SMART-Transportation Division. "It's a train crew's worst nightmare to strike a vehicle or pedestrian at or near a crossing. Grade separation projects like this one provide a win-win situation for workers and communities alike. Removing the opportunity for a tragedy at an at-grade crossing while also freeing up the flow of vehicular traffic, especially at a time when crossings are blocked for longer times due to increased train length, improves safety for rail workers, emergency responders and communities as a whole."
Under Gov. Pritzker's leadership, IDOT is delivering the historic, bipartisan Rebuild Illinois. The largest capital program in state history is investing a combined total of $33.2 billion into the state's aging transportation system, creating jobs and promoting economic growth. The landmark capital program is the first that touches all modes of transportation: roads and bridges, transit, waterways, freight and passenger rail, aviation, and bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.