On July 19, the Greater Egypt Regional Planning & Development Corporation held a conference call to discuss federal funding opportunities with our rural communities. The federal government has earmarked $1.1-1.5 billion dollars to divide between all 50 states. This is part of the FAST Act funding, with the allocation planned to be provided annually through 2020.
Within each state, the funding must be divided among; 1.) the current primary highway freight system, 2.) portions of the interstate system they may wish to add, 3.) the establishment of critical rural freight corridors, and 4.) establishment of critical urban freight corridors. In Illinois, only 337 miles can be designated statewide as Critical Rural Freight Corridors. To complicate matters any community with a population of 5,000 or more must compete with other cities under the Critical Urban Freight Corridor designation.
I met with our County Engineer, Brandon Simmons and we concluded Hwy 15 from the Mt. Vernon city limits westward was important because it is already highlighted as “heavily congested”. Also the CN Rail bridge in Bluford that is too low for many semis to go under was included because it is greatly hindering semi traffic and activities for Bridgewell Resources. There were a few other roads we pushed for, including part of Shiloh Dr. but we did not want to diminish our chances of getting at the most important problems.
If funding is allocated to Jefferson County for these two trouble areas, we may see some major improvements in the coming years.