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State owes city $450,000 for project

Bivins' office says grant could be held up even longer

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013 4:13 p.m. CDT

DIXON – A project to expand Heritage Crossing east of Peoria Avenue is approved and ready to go.

Now, all the state has to do is give the city of Dixon promised grant funds and it can become a reality, said Riverfront Chairman Larry Reed.

Simple enough, except the city has been waiting since 2010 and could be in for a longer wait.

That year, the state approved two grants totaling $450,000 for the project out of the Build Illinois Bond Fund that would add a parking lot east of Peoria Avenue and continue bike and pedestrian paths in that direction, but it has not given the city one cent yet.

The Build Illinois Bond Fund is part of Gov. Pat Quinn's $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which recently provided $418,000 for construction projects at Sauk Valley Community College and pavement patching on Illinois Route 26. It also is the source of the much-criticized allocation of $670,000 for copper-plated doors at the Illinois State Capitol.

State Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, said Dixon is not the only community waiting for funds from the 2010 capital improvement bill, but some others have received money for its projects.

"In our case, the project is ready to go," Reed said. "Some of the final engineering details would be needed to complete the final plan. All is a go from the city's viewpoint. Just release funds and we could finalize plans in a short period of time."

The Illinois Commerce and Economic Opportunity agency manages the Build Illinois Bond Fund and a spokesperson there said receiving these grants takes time, noting the bill gives the governor the authority to release funds.

The distribution of the grants was delayed about a year by a court case challenging the process of how the funds were dispersed, Bivins said.

"The governor's office has to sign off on it," Bivins said. "Dixon still is waiting, but I know they are not the only one."

The expansion of the Heritage Crossing east of Peoria Avenue would bring the Riverfront Commission closer to completing its mission, Reed said.

The goal is for bike and pedestrian pathways to connect to a pedestrian bridge built over the former Illinois Central Railroad piers.

Three attempts at a federal TIGER grant for building a pedestrian bridge have failed, including one this summer.

Construction will not begin until funds are received, Reed said.

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