State pledges $25 million for Decatur project

DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - State officials Tuesday announced Decatur will receive $25 million to pay for a bridge project local officials say will help the city compete for freight traffic. 

Governor Rauner announced the $25 million in Federal funds will pay for a bridge to carry Brush College Road over Faires Parkway and nearby railroad tracks. This is next to Decatur's Midwest Inland Port. 

"This is going to change the dynamics and flow of traffic, truck traffic, into the Midwest Inland Port. It really puts us in a very good position," said Decatur City Manager Tim Gleason. 

Gleason said the project has also received $12 million from the Illinois Commerce Commission and $2 million from an Illinois jobs program. 

"Illinois is at the heart of freight activity for the entire country," Rauner said. "These are smart investments that help improve economic competitiveness. At the same time, communities will be less congested, and the movement of goods and services will be safer and more efficient."

Gleason said local leaders' next step is to seek design engineers. When asked whether the project will require local funds, Gleason said it could, but he also said those funds could come from nearby businesses rather than directly from taxpayers. 

"(The project) will take several years," Gleason said. "We're moving as quickly as we possibly can." 

The Midwest Inland Port is a multi-modal hub that delivers both domestic and international flexibility through a transportation corridor. Rauner announced 23 other projects that will be receiving grants from IDOT to increase safety, leverage private investment and improve connections and commerce at the local level. 

Nicole Batement, Executive Director of the Midwest Inland Port, said the project would help the the region compete with Chicago and other markets for freight traffic. 

"It helps those that are already in our community, moving freight, move it easier and more efficiently," Bateman said. "It also gives us a chance to attract business here because we don't have the freight congestion, the traffic congestion, the intermodal ramp delays they have in the Chicago market." 

For a full list of projects, click here.