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WGLT, an NPR station in central Illinois, is following every move at the Rivian manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois. The electric vehicle startup has gone from stealth mode to big-time player in the auto world, attracting attention (and big money) from companies like Ford and Amazon.

Bloomington To Consider Renaming Rivian Motorway

Mitsubishi Motorway sign
Eric Stock
IDOT would replace Mitsubishi Motorway signs at no cost if local taxing bodies agree changing the name to Rivian Motorway.

Bloomington city staff expects a vote on a proposed highway name change to be a formality, even though it sparked debate in Normal last month.
The Bloomington City Council is expected to vote Monday to consider changing the name of Mitsubishi Motorway to Rivian Motorway, to recognize the Plymouth, Michigan-based company that took over the shuttered auto plant in Normal and plans to produce electric vehicles there starting next year.

A portion of the road is in Bloomington as it intersects with Illinois Route 9. There is also a smaller stretch of the road that runs south of Six Points Road. 

Normal’s Town Council approved the change in a 4-2 vote on July 2. Council members Stan Nord and Karyn Smith raised concerns about renaming a street after a business that has yet to prove its long-term success in the community and there is no way to predict how long the company would be in Normal. 

Billy Tyus
Credit City of Bloomington
Bloomington Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus said renaming Mitsubishi Motorway for Rivian will help give the electric vehicle company a sense of place in the community.

Bloomington city staff has placed the issue on the city council's consent agenda, which means it will be considered among a host of other bills, unless a council member requests that it be discussed separately.

Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus said Rivian has made a significant financial commitment to the community which indicates the company’s commitment to be in Bloomington-Normal for the long term.

“This would represent another step in support of creating a sense of place for the Rivian campus,” Tyus said. “It’s going to be advantageous as the company continues to increase its presence regionally, nationally and internationally, frankly. It will also be helpful in their efforts to attract additional investors.”

Tyus added he doesn’t foresee any navigation issues by changing the name of the road.

“The great thing about this campus is that it’s a destination campus, so most folks looking for that roadway will be headed to this campus,” Tyus said. “It’s not as though it’s a large thoroughfare to other areas.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation has said it will change the signs at no cost if the Town of Normal, City of Bloomington, McLean County and Emergency Telephone Systems Board all approve the name change.

The Town of Normal and ETSB approved the change in July. The County Board will consider the request later this month.

Hamilton Road

The City Council on Monday is also expected to approve an agreement to budget $600,000 for the design of the final piece of the Hamilton Road extension from Bunn Street to Commerce Parkway.

The federal government would reimburse 80% of the cost. The rest would come from local motor fuel tax funds.

The city previously hired Hanson Professional Services of Springfield to handle the design work.

The city projects construction of the $12.5 million project to be done in 2022. The city received $8 million in federal funding for the project in 2017.

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