SAVOY — Because the village’s second request for federal grant money to help build a railroad overpass at Curtis Road and U.S. 45 was rejected, Savoy President Joan Dykstra said work is underway to apply for a third time next spring.
Dykstra said the absence of the long-desired overpass continues to be a life-safety issue only likely to grow as more traffic develops in that area.
“We’re not going to give up,” she said. “This is too important to the whole area, including the university and Champaign-Urbana.”
According to the federal funding application submitted by Savoy in March, the village seeks $19.3 million in federal Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects funds toward the total $38.9 million cost of the project.
The project would include a railroad overpass, the addition of a fourth lane on Curtis Road from Wesley Avenue to U.S. 45, widening of Curtis Road from U.S. 45 to First Street, construction of multi-use paths on the north and south sides of Curtis, and new lighting along Curtis.
Dykstra said competition for the funding — awarded by the federal Infrastructure For Rebuilding America program — is fierce, and Savoy’s second application made the list of projects being considered.
Now village officials are working with state legislators to try to identify additional funding sources in preparation to apply again for federal money in 2020, she said.
The hope is that additional state funding for the project would reduce the amount of federal money needed and improve Savoy’s chances in 2020, said Assistant Village Manager Levi Kopmann.
Savoy has committed $4.5 million toward the cost, and that’s likely the village’s limit.
“We’re a small village, and that’s quite an amazing amount for a small village to leverage, and I don’t believe we will be leveraging any more,” Dykstra said.
According to Savoy’s March 2019 application for federal money, the construction of a railroad overpass combined with other road improvements would avoid conflicts involving trains and roadway users and yield over $7 million in safety benefits over 20 years.
The projected benefits in that application included: avoidance of two (one auto, one train) crash deaths, 49 auto and train injuries and 229 auto and train incidents with property damage.
Kopmann said the timeline for the project probably wouldn’t change much if federal funding is approved next year rather than this one. It already anticipates a construction start in September 2022, with completion at the end of 2025.