BLOOMINGTON — McLean County's transportation infrastructure is about to get a major shot in the arm.
More than $45 million in road and bridge projects, an extension of the Route 66 bike trail and acquisition of abandoned railroad right-of-way for a future Constitution Trail section highlight the county's new capital investment plan, which lays out five years of upcoming projects.
The county plans $11 million in road and bridge upgrades for 2020 alone, the result of a backlog of projects and an infusion of motor fuel tax funding after the state doubled that fee this summer, said Highway Engineer Jerry Stokes.
Those include $1.7 million in upgrades in Chenoa — "three blocks to be reconstructed with new curb and gutter, sidewalk, pavement and storm sewer," said Stokes; a $2.4 million resurfacing of Colfax Weston Road from 2400 North to U.S. 24; and a $2.2 million resurfacing of County Highway 14 through Towanda from Jefferson to 2300 East with rumble strips on shoulders.
"We're just taking more of a preventative approach out there," said Stokes of the strips. "That will go from Towanda out east down to Route 165."
Next year's projects total $6.1 million in local funding, $3.1 million in motor fuel tax and $1.8 million in federal money.
Other upcoming projects include a $2.3 million resurfacing of White Oak Road from Locust Street to U.S. 150 in Bloomington in 2022 — $1.5 million federal and $800,000 local — and a $7.5 million bridge replacement on Gridley Road near County Highway 8 in 2024, $6 million federal and $1.5 million local.
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"That's one of our longer structures, almost 400 feet long, and really high off the ground," said Stokes of the Gridley Road bridge. "That will come out as part of (Illinois Department of Transportation's) multi-year plan, when that comes through in the next couple months."
Work is also in the early stages for the next phase of the Route 66 trail, which currently starts north of Towanda and extends to south of Shirley. The county will spend $60,000 in 2020 for engineering work on a section from near Shirley to Funks Grove, said Parks and Recreation Director Mike Steffa.
"We're hoping to have this completely done within the next four to five years," he said of the trail project, which has been funded over several years by local municipalities and state grants.
The county plans to spend $35,000 in 2021 to acquire former railroad land in far-west Bloomington to extend Constitution Trail. That will connect a completed section near the Rivian plant in Normal to a portion of trail already finished near the King's Mill subdivision, said Steffa.
Work is also underway on improvements for roads inside Comlara Park, budgeted at $35,000 each of the next three years. Steffa said he hopes to coordinate that work with the highway department.
"There's no way we're gonna get it done with what's projected in the budget. ... We're probably looking at the next four or five years to get everything done," said Steffa. "The big holes we're getting ready to fill in with cold patch. ... We've got a couple good-sized potholes out here."
Officials also plan to improve three buildings in Bloomington, with a $250,000 roof replacement for the former county courthouse in 2020, $75,000 parking lot resurfacing at the Government Center in 2021 and $300,000 exterior restoration at the Law and Justice Center in 2022.
"We're constantly trying to maintain our buildings and do projects that make us more energy efficient," like the Law and Justice center work, said Assistant County Administrator Eric Schmitt. "It's always function before aesthetics."