Moline, Rock Island win $3M state grants for improvements

The cities of Moline and Rock Island will receive separate grants to help with downtown revitalization and street projects, according to the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce and local officials.

Moline has been awarded $3 million through the Illinois Main Streets Capital Program to reconstruct Seventh Avenue between 12th and 23rd streets – including the addition of a traffic roundabout at 23rd Street and upgrading the corridor for multi-modal traffic.

Rock Island will get $3 million through the Rebuild Illinois Downtowns and Main Streets Capital Program. This money will be used for downtown revitalization work.

The grants were announced Monday, Aug. 15, by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) as part of a $106 million package awarded to 50 projects around the state.

In addition, the City of Aledo received a $3 million grant for roadway and streetscape improvements.

“I am excited the plans to rejuvenate the downtown are getting underway, especially with a total of more than $7 million to be invested,” said Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms. “We are grateful for the recent $3 million award from the State of Illinois. This is due to the partnership between the Quad Cities Chamber and City of Rock Island. We could not miss this opportunity to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and TIF funds to leverage a state grant that would almost double the investment into our downtown. We have had a lot of public input on this very well-thought-out plan.”

The proposed $7 million project includes streetscaping and placemaking improvements throughout the core of the downtown Rock Island Historic District, roughly the area between 1st and 4th avenues and 15th and 21st streets. The project will renew weathered infrastructure and add decorative lighting, landscaping, signage, security cameras, parklets for outdoor dining, public art installations and pop-up vendor stalls, among other amenities.

While many of these new elements will be introduced throughout the bulk of the historic district, the primary focus areas are:

  • Reconstruction of the Great River Plaza (2nd Avenue pedestrian mall).
  • Activation of Arts Alley (1700 block of 2nd Avenue).
  • Gateway between downtown business district and Schwiebert Riverfront Park (100 block of 18th Street).
  • New downtown dog park in partnership with Illinois Casualty Company (300 block of 21st Street).

Rock Island is supporting the project through $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and $1.5 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District funds. Illinois Casualty Company also is contributing a parcel of land and up to $100,00 for the development of the dog park. 

“Between this award, and the millions of dollars in investments being made to develop the new federal building and YWCA, among other projects, downtown Rock Island is on the cusp of an exciting new era of revitalization,” said Jack Cullen, director of Downtown Rock Island with the Quad Cities Chamber. “Not only will this project help the downtown business community rebound from the pandemic, but we believe it will help create the vibrant sense of place our community is craving to attract more private investment and visitors, too.”

In Moline, the city applied for the grant last January with the goal of providing funding for the street project that is expected to cost $8.6 million. According to the grant application, the condition of 12th Street, 23rd Street, and 7th Avenue are poor and the level of service is suffering.

“This project is transformative and will serve as a great example for future street reconstructions using a complete streets model,” said Moline City Administrator Bob Vitas. “It was a collaborative effort with staff from engineering, public works, community and economic development and administration.”

Two major issues plaguing the transportation corridor include a lack of connectivity to alternative modes of transportation and a relatively poor safety record. A roundabout is proposed at the intersection of 7th Avenue and 23rd Street for traffic calming and enhanced safety at an intersection that has seen heightened accident rates. 

All street corridors also will receive advanced technology lighting, signage and striping for traffic and pedestrians; curb, gutter, and ADA compliant ramps; streetscaping with native vegetation and trees; and technology kiosks to disseminate information to bicyclists and pedestrians.

Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati also praised city staff for making a compelling case to the state. “This is fantastic news and shows how great our teamwork approach is working,” Ms. Rayapati said.

Illinois Rep. Mike Halpin said he is pleased to see priority projects throughout the Quad Cities, including Moline and Rock Island, well represented in grant programs.

“I will continue to fight for additional funding that boosts the Illinois Quad cities economy,” said Mr. Halpin. “I am proud of the work we are able to accomplish when we work together.”

The grants are awarded by the Illinois DCEO using funds allocated through the Rebuild Illinois Program and expanded upon through ARPA. 

“I am thrilled to announce that we are doubling last year’s investment in our downtowns and Main Streets Capital Grant program to include over 50 communities throughout Illinois to modernize downtowns, address long-awaited infrastructure needs, and boost local economies — in turn, bettering the quality of life for our state’s residents,” the governor said in a news release. “With that upgraded infrastructure comes economic opportunity: more jobs, more business growth, and more money pouring into the communities that need it most — and that’s what Rebuild Illinois is all about.”

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