NORMAL — Town officials are taking another shot at federal funding for a railroad underpass at Uptown Station.
Normal will apply for $16 million in TIGER (Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery) money, which in 2009 paid $22 million to build the station, for a pedestrian underpass project, said City Manager Mark Peterson.
Applications are due Oct. 16 for $500 million in projects across the country ranging from $5 million to $25 million each to "have significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or a region."
Bloomington and McLean County aren't applying, said city Public Works Director Jim Karch and County Administrator Bill Wasson.
The town is paying a consultant $1.4 million to conduct a feasibility study, to be finished in fall 2018, on an underpass that would take walkers, cyclists and others from the station to the future "Uptown South" district. Mayor Chris Koos has said the project will not proceed past that point without outside funding.
The Normal City Council decided in June to narrow its options to an underpass or using the existing at-grade crossings at Broadway Avenue and Linden Street. The council voted in 2015 to abandon an overpass project, which already had grant funding, in favor of studying an underpass.
Officials planned to apply for TIGER money for the underpass in 2016 but held off to back a $20 million Illinois Department of Transportation proposal to widen and upgrade U.S. Business 51 through the heart of the Twin Cities. That proposal failed, but some work is underway on Main Street.
"It (Business 51) is a viable project and will be considered for future TIGER grants if they are available," said Kelsea Gurski, IDOT communication services bureau chief.