Around this time last year, we blogged about the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant awarded to our community. We covered the partner agencies (MTD, City of Champaign, University of Illinois, and City of Urbana) seeking to improve mobility through the core of our community with improved and enhanced infrastructure. The partner agencies put up 55% of the funds needed ($19,178,138) and the Federal (TIGER) Grant came through with the rest and awarded $15.7 million.
The $35 million dollar project targets portions of Green Street, White Street, Wright Street, and Armory Avenue. So, this you knew. So what’s taken place in the last year since the grant was awarded?
Meet the Consultants
Consultants were hired to provide expertise and rigorous research to realize quality mobility transformation in each of the project areas. The agencies include Clark Dietz, Inc., Hanson Professional Services, T.Y. Lin International, Millennia Professional Services, Third Coast Design Studio, Site Design Group, Ltd., The Roderick Group, and Engineer Research International.
Each consulting agency offers professionals with different industry expertise including engineers (structural, geotechnical, and field), landscape and architecture specialists, sustainable designers, utility coordinators, and drainage experts. The consultants are also working to help the five projects maintain ADA compliance along with complete street designs.
Months of Collaboration
After the grant was awarded and the consultants were hired, the partner agencies began meeting regularly. Jane Sullivan, MTD’s Grant Manager and Sustainability Planner, serves as one of the MTD representatives.
“The partner agencies and consultants have discussed every single decision presented in the now public project plans,” said Sullivan. “Each partner agency comes to the table with their own agenda. And at first, everyone might not agree.”
While all partner agencies agree on the overarching project purpose, the real-life selection of those details is more complicated. MTD seeks to improve service to our passengers. We want to see projects that make riding the bus easy and safe for all users. The University is thinking about the campus flow and the ease of access to visitors. And then the cities are looking at the big picture, the community at large.
“We didn’t always start the meetings with 100% agreement, and sometimes it took a four-hour meeting, but all four agencies did meet in the middle,” Sullivan said. “Ultimately we all want streets that are safe and functional for all modes of transportation.”
The partner agencies also need final approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) who is responsible for monitoring the funds and execution of the grant. The agencies continually keep IDOT in the loop as plans for each project are developed.
Because of the nature of the grand funding requirements, the five projects have been divided into two phases.
The first phase includes Projects One through Three. Project One is on Green Street from Wright to Busey. Project Two is also on Green Street from Neil to Fourth. And Project Three is on White Street from Second to Wright and on Wright Street from White to Springfield. Bid Letting is scheduled to occur for Projects One, Two, and Three in June 2016 and construction is slated to start August 2016. The target for Substantial Completion, which means the streets are open to traffic and safe for use, is late 2017.
The second phase includes Projects Four and Five. Project Four is on Armory Avenue from Fourth to Wright and on Wright Street from Armory to Springfield. Bid letting is expected to occur early in 2018 with construction beginning in spring 2018. Substantial Completion for Projects Four and Five is expected in late 2019.
The MCORE Project is committed to maintaining frequent communication. The website is updated regularly and the team has Facebook and Twitter accounts dedicated to the project. You can also sign up for email updates and submit project questions.
All travel modes will be impacted when construction begins! MTD will distribute detailed reroute information as soon as timelines are finalized. Thanks for making adjustments and let’s look forward to a healthy and active community core.