NORMAL – During a special session held remotely Monday, Normal Town Council members voted unanimously to spend $1.27 million in motor fuel tax dollars to provide improvements to a stretch of road near Rivian Automotive’s plant located on the Town’s west end. The continuing Coronavirus crisis was the reason for the session being done remotely. Prior to the Council session, a public hearing was held during which no members of the public addressed the matter. The boundaries for the work to be done are on College Ave. stretching as far west as Rivian Motorway, and stretching as far east as White Oak Road.

The road, which is nearly 35 years old, is experiencing cracks and has been part of a scheduled Capital Investment Project by the Town, Otto said. He added preliminary layout and other beginning assignments for improving the road will be part of a phase one engineering project for which the Town will spend $600,000.

West College Avenue from Rivian Motorway to White Oak Road is an arterial street which provides access to commercial, industrial, and residential properties. Rivian Automotive’s Town of Normal manufacturing facility is accessed by that road. The road is also experiencing rapid concrete joint decay at the curb, gutter, and pavement panel areas. The goal of the proposed project is to rehabilitate and improve the corridor while accounting for impacts to businesses and property access.

Planning for work on the road would begin with a planning phase which could start in early fall. Construction could begin by the start of summer 2022.

In a report prepared for Council members by Town Engineer Ryan Otto explained the project will cost around $9.35 million to completely, and in addition to the Town’s share of the expense, the project would be paid using $3,080,000 in Federal Surface Transportation Funds, and another $5 million in grant Funding requested by the Town from the State through its Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. This project was part of the Town’s current Capital Investment Plan.

The Town is proposing applying for project funding through the State’s Rebuild Illinois Public Infrastructure grant program. That program is overseen by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). The State has allocated $25 million to the competitive Public Infrastructure component of the Restore Illinois program. There is a grant ceiling of $5 million per project has been established.

Town Staff worked with Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the McLean County Regional Planning Commission (MCRPC) to secure federal surface transportation funding for the preliminary and design engineering for the project, Otto’s report to Council noted.

Work is slated to start this fall with a planning phase followed by environmental and designed engineering phases, all of which should be completed by summer of 2022. Construction on the road will begin after that.

Roadway improvements and rehabilitation, intersection evaluation and design, multi-use trail extensions, and drainage improvements are all included in the project to improve the street.

At the start of the meeting, Normal resident Patrick Dullard addressed Council members, speaking in support of the resolution favoring spending the funds. “Normal takes pride in taking care of their streets,” Dullard said.

Also speaking in support for the project was Patrick Hoban, chief executive officer of Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council. Hoban told Council members the community’s does such work as a means of investing in infrastructure which in turn encourages companies to invest in themselves which causes more jobs to be created. In turn, patrons visit the companies which brings in more tax dollars which can continue to be used to improve the infrastructure.

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