DECATUR, Ill. — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker joined state and local leaders, along with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), on Thursday, March 30, to announce a nearly $200 million investment in 22 projects that are designed to improve freight movement throughout the state, creating jobs and economic opportunity while enhancing safety and local quality of life.
A total of $7.2 million of the funds will be used to expand three interstate rest areas to add 122 parking spaces.
Administered by IDOT using federal funds, the Illinois Competitive Freight Program “is designed to implement the goals of the Illinois State Freight Plan,” a news release stated. “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,” Pritzker said. “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, according to officials.
The governor made his announcement 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, according to the news release. 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; and $18.8 million for a new Illinois 50 bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
“Freight drives the Illinois economy in our role as the transportation hub of North America,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said. “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 and labor partners joining together to make this a priority,” Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said. “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.”
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