Normal's mayor still likes the chances of improvements to Main Street despite the federal government's rejection of a grant proposal to improve the corridor.
A joint Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant submission by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for $20 million in upgrades for Route 51 through both Bloomington and Normal was denied, but Chris Koos said the improvements are still a high priority.
"The transportation bill is a five year bill. There will be a TIGER every year. Fastlane every year. This is really a state project and we're in support of the state on this project," said Koos. During Sound Ideas, Koos said he's sure both communities will get together with IDOT officials to see how they can improve on the failed grant proposal. The town had initially wanted to submit plans for a pedestrian railroad underpass near Uptown Station, but switched priorities when the state's Main Street plan emerged. The City of Bloomington shelved a TIGER grant application to improve Hamilton Road.
Koos says he's confident both projects are solid contenders for future federal TIGER grants and he expects the Route 51 corridor proposal to re-emerge. He said plans to improve the community's main street doesn't necessarily block plans to eventually gain funding for a pedestrian underpass at Uptown Station.
"They're distinctly different projects. We'll have further conversations with IDOT in terms of what their wish going forward is to reapply for the corridor." said Koos.
The only projects in state approved in the TIGER grant process were improvements to a Chicago "L" station and a railroad underpass in Springfield totaling $39 million in grants awarded in Illinois.