NORMAL — Mayors Chris Koos of Normal and Tari Renner of Bloomington are heading to Washington, D.C., Tuesday to lobby for two public transportation projects.
They are joining about 30 local officials who will be in the nation's capital Tuesday night through Thursday for One Voice, an annual trip that allows them to promote Bloomington-Normal's priorities to federal elected officials and agencies.
The One Voice lobbying effort, led by the Bloomington-Normal Area Economic Development Council, will focus on seeking funding for a pedestrian underpass to connect the north and south sides of the railroad tracks at Uptown Station in Normal and a new Connect Transit transfer center for buses in downtown Bloomington.
Normal officials will stay until Friday for additional meetings about the underpass.
"It's an annual opportunity for us to connect with our national officials, but also to connect with people in Washington who actually make decisions on transportation and infrastructure," said Renner.
Members of the One Voice task force plan to meet with U.S. Department of Transportation officials to seek available Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants or other federal money for the transportation projects.
The group also will speak to congressional representatives, including Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin and Republican Reps. Rodney Davis of Taylorville and Darin LaHood of Dunlap, and Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos of Moline.
Renner said local officials will seek federal funding for the downtown bus transfer station proposal separate from a controversial proposal to combine it with a Bloomington Public Library expansion project at a downtown parking deck site.
Downtown Bloomington is the second busiest of Connect Transit's stops, said Renner, adding, "It could be an obvious anchor for people to get back and forth to work and to get downtown, so I think it's a very, very important project from my perspective."
The underpass is important for Normal because it will allow "us to open up an area for redevelopment for non-student, multifamily housing in a variety of price ranges," said Koos, noting it took Normal nine years to get federal money to build Uptown Station.
Koos also is supporting efforts for the new bus transfer station because "it's something that is needed to make that system more efficient. If it's more efficient people will use it more."
The delegation also plans to explore development of a customs operation for corporate and general aviation at Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington and ways to foster local small-business development.
Also making the trip are incoming Normal City Manager Pam Reece; Normal Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich; Normal council member Chemberly Cummings; Bloomington City Manager Steve Rasmussen; and Bloomington Aldermen Scott Black of Ward 7 and Diana Hauman of Ward 8.