NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Representatives Darin LaHood (R-IL -18th) and Rodney Davis (R-IL -13th) were in the Twin Cities Thursday to discuss a new grant that will improve public transportation in McLean county.
For years leaders with Connect Transit have been trying to find a solution to what they call an unsafe cluster in downtown Bloomington. They decided to create a transfer center making it easy for riders to load on and off the busses without having to dodge oncoming traffic, but they never had the money, until now.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration is awarding the company $8 million to get started on the new transfer center in downtown Bloomington.
“What does that mean for connect transit?” said Ryan Whitehouse, Connect Transit Board Chairman. We serve 10 routes out of the downtown area, over 1,800 rides a day. The amenities are really not there that we need and this money will assure us to get to that next step.”
The funds for the project are the result of the work done by Representatives LaHood and Davis, who began meeting with stakeholders two years ago to make this a reality.
“This has been part of a long-term plan for really building out our mass transit system, in an area that seen its grow in use until COVID,” said Congressman Davis (R-IL -13th). “But we can’t stop planning, because COVID is going to go away, so we have to look ahead.”
Many say the money won’t just benefit Connect and its riders, Bloomington City Mayor Tari Renner says it will also boost the economy.
“It’s critical for downtown development, it’s critical for having a mobile workforce,” said Renner. “Not only will that help revitalize, and make downtown even more exciting, but capital investment will attract more capital investment, and more investment beyond that.”
Leaders say the center will act as the permanent substitute to the warming and cooling stations as soon riders will be able to wait indoors for their bus. They expect the center to be completed by fall of 2022.