News Local/State

Delay On State Budget Delays Road Projects In C-U

Section of Green Street in Champaign under construction for the MCORE Project.

This section of Green Street east of the Canadian National railroad tracks in Champaign will be opened to traffic if work on the street as part of the MCORE project is delayed, due to lack of a new state budget. Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

Work on two federally funded road construction projects in Champaign-Urbana will have to halt --- unless state lawmakers and the governor act quickly this weekend to pass a budget to authorize the state to spend the money on the projects in the new fiscal year.

One of the projects is the $8.3 million reconstruction of Green Street that is part of MCORE (the Multimodal Corridor Enhancement Project) in Champaign-Urbana’s Campustown.

Kris Koester with the city of Champaign says that that same budget needed to authorize spending on the Lincoln Avenue Extension Project is also needed to give authority to spend the federal money that is financing M-CORE.

“The Department of Transportation notified contractors as well as local entities mid-June, that come July 1st if there was no  budget, or stopgap budget or final budget, that as of July One, they would lose their ability to pay contractors”, said Koester.

Until IDOT gets its spending authority back, work on the MCORE project will halt.  Koester says work on MCORE projects on Green Street had been going on a six-day-a-week schedule. But now, he says the contractor has been removing equipment from the two construction sites, and the equipment likely can’t be returned until after July Fourth, even if lawmakers and the governor reach a budget agreement on Saturday, July First.

While construction work is on hold, Koester says that Green Street will remain closed from Wright to Goodwin near the Illini Union building in Urbana. But Green will be open to traffic just west of the Canadian National railroad tracks in Champaign --- even though the street is only half-paved.

Delays on passing a new state budget will also affect the $4.3 million rebuilding of the Lincoln Avenue Extension north of Urbana, to carry truck traffic to and from the newly extended Olympian Drive.

Urbana Public Works Director Bill Gray says work on that project could start up again on Monday --- if lawmakers and the governor agree on a new state budget is passed over the weekend. But if debate over the budget stretches past the Fourth of July, Gray says, “then the contractor has to look at other projects, and possibly removing equipment work force to other jobs”.

Gray says that removal could delay the resumption of work, just as a construction crew was getting ready to pour concrete.

Several other state-sponsored highway projects around Illinois could be put on hold by further delays in passing a state budget. But one other local project in Urbana will not be affected.

Work can continue on the $3.1 million reconstruction of Airport Road West, from Willow road to Cunningham Avenue. Gray says the project is locally bid, and thus can continue without a state budget --- but only for awhile. The project includes some state funding. A news release from the city of Urbana says if there’s no state money available by July 15th , they’ll have to decide whether to shut the project down, or continue using local tax increment financing (or TIF) dollars to keep construction going.