Illinois Inland Port Study Delayed by State Funding Holdup

DECATUR, Ill. — More than three years after state grants were authorized to help develop the Midwest Inland Port, the city of Decatur, Ill., is still waiting.

The city of Decatur was awarded funding from the state Department of Transportation and Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in 2014. The money was meant to pay for studies of the transportation needs related to the port, identify necessary improvements and estimate their cost.

Work still hasn’t started because of a holdup with funding, according to a memo distributed to council members.

The Midwest Inland Port is a hub that aims to combine rail, air and truck transportation, and city officials have lauded it for years as key to Decatur’s economic development.

The two state-funded studies would generally encompass much of the city's northeast side, including the Archer Daniels Midland Co.'s intermodal ramp, 27th Street corridor and proposed Macon County Beltway, a long-discussed project that would connect Interstate 72 and U.S. 51.

In the first phase of the study, the city’s consultant would analyze existing facilities and find ways to improve them and facilitate a “full range of freight transportation options.” The second study would focus on planning those improvements, including budget and schedule estimates.

DCEO had pledged $250,000 for the work, to be paired with $180,000 from IDOT. The council voted to accept both grants in fall 2014.

The city hired URS Corp. in February 2015 to do the work, and the company was told to go ahead in April of that year. But just two months later, both departments ordered the project to stop because the state did not have a budget, according to the council memo.

Later, IDOT told the city that it could resume work on July 1, 2016. However, DCEO did not authorize resuming work, so the city continued to wait.