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B-N project grants advance in U.S. House

Congressman Eric Sorensen talks to Mayor Mwilambwe in downtown Bloomington
Lyndsay Jones
U.S. Rep. Eric Sorensen, left, with Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe in downtown Bloomington on Friday, May 5, 2023.

Bloomington-Normal has nearly $2.7 million in potential projects included in a U.S. House appropriations bill that has advanced from a subcommittee to the full appropriations committee.

U.S. Rep. Eric Sorensen said the bill includes money for street upgrades in Normal, stormwater improvement in Uptown Normal, and the Locust-Colton storm and sanitary sewer separation project in Bloomington. Other area lawmakers have also put forward project funding for central Illinois.

"Funding for these critical projects will give central Illinois communities the tools they need to improve traffic, increase home ownership, live healthier lives, and make our region sustainable for generations to come," said Sorensen, a Democrat representing the 17th Congressional District that includes much of the Twin Cities.

Sorensen requested funding for the projects in April as part of the community project funding process.

They include $850,000 in street upgrades to impose a road diet on Vernon Avenue, something now under study by the town.

“The Town of Normal appreciates congressman Sorensen’s support of our efforts to create safer conditions for both drivers and pedestrians in our community,” said Normal Mayor Chris Koos. “Never is this more important than around schools.”

Another $850,000 would go to updating storm systems in low-lying flood prone areas in Uptown.

“Updating stormwater drainage in the town’s central business district will protect Uptown Normal from the increasing frequency of heavy rains and other extreme weather events. The entire community, including Uptown businesses and patrons, Amtrak and bus riders and Illinois State University students, will benefit from these improvements,” said Koos.

The Locust-Colton sewer separation would get $960,000 to improve conditions that led to a large and costly flood in Bloomington in 2021. This funding would help build new sanitary sewers and water mains, eliminating capacity issues for the area. This project would minimize future overflows, sewer backups, and flooding during heavy rain events, say officials.

“As a city, we understand that the Locust-Colton Sewer Separation Project is vital to our community,” said Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe. “Improving the overall performance and efficiency of the system is a priority for us and this major investment in Bloomington’s infrastructure will ensure the system is safe and reliable for years to come.”

The measure also includes about $2.5 million for several projects in the Peoria area addressing affordable housing needs, sidewalk upgrades, and water mains.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.