MTD seeks grant to rebuild roads
CHAMPAIGN — For the third time, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District is seeking a federal grant to rebuild five major traffic corridors in central Champaign-Urbana.
"Hopefully the third time is the charm," MTD Managing Director Bill Volk told the district's board Wednesday.
The project includes rebuilding portions of Green and Wright streets in Urbana and Champaign, and parts of White and Armory streets in Champaign, including exclusive bus and bike lanes.
Past grant applications included Green Street in Urbana, from Wright Street to Lincoln Avenue. This time, the grant also covers the portion between Lincoln and Race.
Also part of the proposed project is Green, from Fourth Street to Neil Street in Champaign; Wright, from Armory Avenue to White Street; White, from Wright to Second Street; and Armory, from Fourth Street to Wright.
If approved, the $34.88 million project would involve $15.7 million in federal funds and $19.1 million in local money.
"This would make a big investment in the core of the community that is badly needed, particularly after this winter and the way the roads are," Volk said.
Under this grant application, local contributions were increased by both the University of Illinois (from $2 million to $3.6 million) and the city of Urbana (from $650,000 to $2.1 million).
"The previous grant application was for a faster time frame, but with this one we don't have to get the work done until fiscal year 2021, so the cities had additional money over a longer period to put to it," Volk said. "Hopefully our timing is good this time.
"One of the things that I think will improve our chances this time is that our local share actually increased, and the information we're receiving is that some of the other folks are indicating that they don't have the local share they used to. Money is tight."
There's $600 million available nationwide in the TIGER — Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery — grant program, Volk said.
He said the grants probably would be awarded in late summer or early fall.
"This would be huge — a $35 million project over four years, from a construction standpoint, would be a major investment for the local economy," he said. "We feel we're a good match but we'll see what happens. But you can't win if you don't play."
MTD board Chairman Don Uchtmann added, "You never know how these things turn out but we have a strong contender here."
Also Wednesday, board members learned that MTD buses carried 1.32 million passengers in March, up 14.4 percent from a year earlier. Year-to-date ridership is 9.7 percent greater than a year earlier.