Competitive process ahead for transportation dollars
By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff
It was a swing and a miss for the village trying to get some grant funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) last year. But that’s not stopping public works officials from working at it again, with some assistance from the village board.
IDOT is currently accepting grant applications under the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Projects (ITEP) program.
The program provides funding to support alternative forms of transportation, specifically, pedestrian, bicycling, and public transportation improvement.
The program is highly competitive and most applications are not approved based on limited grant funding.
The last time the village received funds from the ITEP was about 10 years ago, when Plainfield was given cash to provide decorative street lighting along Route 59.
Village officials noted that while this particular grant is difficult to obtain, the village has had a lot of success in the grant-funding arena.
“We’ve been very successful in many other grant areas, from surface transportation funds to partnerships with IDOT and even the federal government, too, with bridge replacement,” said Director of Public Works Allen Persons. “So, there have been millions of dollars in grants that have been received for projects over the past ten years, and we’ve got several million lined up for the next four or five years as well.”
Persons said that fewer than 10 percent of the projects in the state get approved fro ITEP grants.
“It’s a highly competitive process, but it’s something that we want to look at every year,” Persons said. “We’d like the board to give us some direction… because our deadline is Dec. 1 for these projects.”
The total cost for any one project cannot exceed $2 million, but Persons said the three projects outlined by the village last year were each in the $500,000 range.
Three projects proposed before that the village is looking at again for this year’s grant application include:
Lockport Street from Route 59 east to Miles
The scope of work would be to remove the existing substandard sidewalk and replace with ADA compliant sidewalks and ramps, as well as add decorative lighting.
Main Street/Rt. 126 from Route 59 to Lockport Street
The scope of work would remove the sections of substandard sidewalk and install new ADA compliant sidewalk and ADA ramps on both sides of Main Street from Route 59 to Lockport Street.
Lockport Street from Meadow Lane to Wallin Drive
The scope of work would be to install a new bike path and ADA compliant improvements along Lockport Street.
Staff is seeking input from the Village Board regarding the projects listed above and other projects that the Board may want to include as part of the ITEP grant application process.
Persons asked for direction from trustees on possible projects, but noted that riverfront trail items and additional street lighting along Route 59 would likely be good candidates.
Village trustees weighed in on the possibilities of grant funding.
“I think it’s more important to maintain or improve some of those sidewalks along a busy road,” said Trustee Larry Newton. “I think that pedestrian safety is of utmost importance to me.”
Persons noted that the ITEP grants can be tricky, and are not easy to get. But, he said, it’s something he’d like to see the village try to grab.
“I always hate to miss an opportunity out there,” Persons said.
Persons said receiving those grant funds supports the village’s Transportation Plan and Strategic Plan by identifying possible pedestrian connections and seeking funding to complete these projects.
Persons noted that shovel-ready projects would be favorable for the grant application.
Board members are expected to discuss the issue further at a future Committee of the Whole meeting.