Several Cook County, Ill., transportation projects received a funding boost from the county in early August with the awarding of the sixth “Invest in Cook” grant program. The program helps fund transportation-related projects. This round of grants will support 43 projects including two transit, 16 pedestrian, 11 bicycle, one freight and 13 road projects.
The program has awarded $48.7 million in grants since 2017 and this year, will distribute $8.99 million across 39 municipalities and three townships.
Cook County’s Department of Transportation and Highways (DoTH) manages the grant program, which is part of Connecting Cook County, the county’s first long-range transportation plan in 75 years, which guides how the county invests in transportation to attract and retain businesses, people, capital and talent.
DoTH evaluated the 79 grant applications submitted by local governments and transit agencies based on priorities detailed in Connecting Cook County:
- Prioritize transit and other transportation alternatives.
- Support the region’s role as North America’s freight capital.
- Promote equal access to opportunities.
- Maintain and modernize what already exists.
- Increase investments in transportation.
DoTH staff evaluated and scored the proposals using publicly available, performance-based criteria. A qualitative assessment consisting of staff reviews of applications and applicant interviews complemented the quantitative assessments. To promote diversity in transportation modes, projects were evaluated and ranked by type. This year, 55 percent of grant funding is directed towards projects in low and moderate-income communities.
“Making equitable investments to ensure that each community has robust transportation infrastructure is essential to creating a more vibrant Cook County,” said Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle. “Over half of projects receiving funding this year are in traditionally underserved areas. When we lift these communities up by making commuting easier and more accessible, we’re improving the quality of life for not only these residents but for all county residents.”
The transit grants recipients
The Village of Lynwood was awarded a $150,000 grant to undertake the planning process for Moving Lynwood Forward, a feasibility study seeking to expand village transportation options including bike share, bus service, paratransit, biking and walking. The study will help identify how and where to improve and accommodate biking, walkability and ADA access, as well as new land use patterns. Bus route and schedule improvements will also be considered to provide residents access to village services and community businesses.
The second transit-specific project to be awarded funds was the Rogers Park Station Engineering project from Metra, which will benefit from a $400,000 grant. The funding will support the rehabilitation of the Rogers Park Station on Metra’s Union Pacific North Line. The improvements will make the facility safer and more accessible and provide better service to the community for decades to come. The rehabilitation will include on demand heating, ADA-compliant signs and LED lit boards, additional bike parking, a new platform canopy and improvements to the embankment walls at Lunt and Greenleaf Avenues. The station has among the highest ridership of Metra’s 242 stations; however, it was last rehabilitated in 1990 and requires improvement to meet the needs of riders.
Additional projects awarded funds will build or fix sidewalks that will enhance access to bus stops, while some road projects involve resurfacing of roads near bus stops.