Champaign-Urbana launches multimillion dollar street improvement project

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CHAMPAIGN-URBANA--City leaders in Champaign-Urbana launched a multimillion dollar renovation project Tuesday afternoon that will aim to keep the city streets safer.

It's an unprecedented project bringing $35 million in improvements to the streets of Champaign-Urbana.

"I like to think that from a planning perspective we do it right," said TJ Blakeman, Champaign's senior planner for economic development. "And I like to think that this is a recognition of that and a way to father those goals."

Changes are coming to five of the busiest streets around the University of Illinois campus as part of the MCORE Enhancement Project. The plan aims to make those roadways safer for those who use them, including drivers, riders, bikers, and pedestrians.

"When people look at it afterwards, they'll see a lot of new pavement, new street lights, new sidewalks, new street furniture," said Dave Clark, Champaign's city engineer and the project manager. "Just a nice welcoming environment through each corridor."

Designs for the re-worked corridors are well underway. Construction is expected to begin on the first three projects in August of 2016.

"That's not ideal because that's when everybody comes back to school, but that's the way the funding works for us," said Clark.

Around $15 million worth of that funding is coming from a federal TIGER grant. The rest is split between the cities of Champaign and Urbana, the U of I, and the C-U Mass Transit District.

"I know there have been some incidents in the past, and it's always tragic when that happens," said David Spacek, IDOT's Deputy Director of Transit. "So the more that you can have shared space, but designated shared space, I think this will hopefully be a model for other parts of the state."

Those working on that model hope have all of its components completed by 2019, but are currently looking for public input on the project. They will host a public meeting at the Illini Union on May 5th at 11 am and 4 pm. For more details on the project, visit MCOREproject.com.
 
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