A long-sought project that promises to transform the center of Carbondale just took a major step forward.
Officials announced Wednesday that the city has received a $14 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation -- money that is earmarked for construction of a new multimodal transportation center at the site of the current Amtrak station on the Strip.
The new facility will house the region's public transportation providers, Amtrak and Greyhound, as well as what's being billed as the region's first bike sharing service.
The planned station ultimately would serve as a transportation hub, providing accommodations for trains, busses, taxis and ride-share providers. It also could include retail space, conference areas and even a child care facility.
"This award is a major investment in rural transportation that will improve the lives of many working families in our region, while also providing high-paying construction jobs," Mayor Mike Henry said in a news release announcing the award.
The city previously had applied for the grant but failed to obtain it. This week's funding announcement, which follows years of stalled efforts, was hailed by both of the state's senators as a much-deserved development.
"I've supported this project since I arrived in the Senate because this significant infusion of federal funding in Carbondale will help move our state's economy in the right direction, improve our transportation systems and create jobs for hardworking southern Illinoisans," U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth said. "It's a continuing effort to improve infrastructure in Carbondale and across southern Illinois while supporting local jobs. I'm proud to announce this investment in Illinois infrastructure, and I'll keep working with Sen. (Dick) Durbin to modernize transportation systems in every corner of our state."
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost also weighed in on the funding.
"This is huge news for the city of Carbondale and residents of the entire region," said Bost. "This grant will empower Carbondale to make critical updates to its transportation systems, improving access for more residents and providing new infrastructure to best connect Jackson County with the rest of the region. Carbondale can be proud that it secured funding through one of the most rigorous, merit-based infrastructure grant competitions around."
A timeline for development and construction has not been finalized.