Five metro-east communities are set to receive federal money to help with transportation-related projects.
The Illinois Department of Transportation announced this week it is administering $3.4 million in federal money to metro-east communities to improve streetscapes or bike and pedestrian paths as part of the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program.
In the metro-east, IDOT awarded money to:
- Highland: $1.2 million for streetscape improvements along Illinois 160
- Edwardsville: $943,200 for a bike and pedestrian path along Illinois 157
- Columbia: $600,720 for streetscape work along Main Street
- Wood River: $412,030 for streetscape work
- Millstadt: $245,150 for streetscape improvements along Washington Street
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In Edwardsville, a 3,000-foot-long, 10-foot wide path is planned along Illinois 157 to connect Lewis Road/University Drive to the Goshen Trail.
Ryan Zwijack, Edwardsville's city engineer, said the city still needs to select an engineer for the project; construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2020.
"We're trying to get a whole pedestrian corridor along Illinois 157," Zwijack said.
Zwijack added that planning for the corridor began before a man walking along Illinois 157 was struck and killed by a vehicle last year.
“We’ve had a few pedestrian incidents (and) we’re trying to increase pedestrian safety," Zwijack said.
In Columbia, the federal dollars will help pay for the third phase of a streetscape improvement project along Main Street. The aesthetic improvements along Main Street from Cherry Street to Madison Street are expected to include new sidewalks, brick pavers, decorative lights, tree plantings and decorative crosswalks, said Chris Smith, Columbia's city engineer.
The entire streetscape improvement along Main Street spans 11 blocks, Smith said. The first phase was completed in 2014 and the second phase is being designed.
"This is the central business district, and we’re trying to enhance pedestrian and business activity," Smith said.
Wood River plans to upgrade its central business district with a new entryway sign to the area, new sidewalks and improvements to comply with the American with Disabilities Act, according to IDOT.
Millstadt plans to add safer sidewalks and historic-looking street lights in its downtown area, IDOT said.
Highland plans to improve its central business district along Illinois Route 160 from Laurel Street to Poplar Street, by building wider sidewalks, adding decorative street lighting, planting trees and adding way-finding street signage, IDOT said.
For the latest funding cycle, IDOT received 218 applications for projects worth about $252 million. The state awarded $35.7 million worth of funding for 53 projects around Illinois.
“Investing in local infrastructure is a sure-fire way to improve safety and quality of life,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said. “These awards and projects will go a long way in making our great cities and communities even better places to work, raise a family and do business.”
The Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program is paid for with federal money, but local communities have to provide a 20 percent match for the projects. Money for the projects will have to be spent within four years.
“By investing in our local communities, we are strengthening our state’s transportation system as a whole,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “Each of these investments embodies our core mission at IDOT and brings us a step closer to our goal of a multimodal transportation system that benefits all residents of Illinois.”