News in the Bi-State Region
April 22, 2015 – Tom Heinhold, Deputy Chief, Operations Division at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) – Rock Island District, spoke on the challenges and opportunities for maintaining and improving the infrastructure on the Mississippi River. On the 1,200 mile Mississippi River navigation system, there are 37 lock sites predominately built between 1930 and 1945. Aging and decaying infrastructure coupled with limited federal appropriations presents a number of challenges in maintaining this vital marine highway system.
The Upper Mississippi River (UMR) carries more than 600 million tons of cargo each year. With the completion of improvements to the Panama Canal in 2016/17, opportunities may be present to increase river navigation and move more products. Barge transportation is the least expensive mode for bulk commodities and the most green transportation option. Mr. Heinhold cited the cost savings for industry as $23.74 per ton for traffic moving through the UMR.
April 22, 2015 – Denise Bulat, Executive Director, presented the final draft of the Bi-State Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) 2015 Progress Report. She highlighted items from sections of the document, including the progress on goals, data/demographics, analysis on current economic conditions, and a projects list from the Bi-State Region.
She noted that the CEDS progress reports are produced in interim years with a full plan created every five years, as required to receive federal funds.
Bi-State Region governments and development organizations self-reported 66 economic development related projects completed between July 1, 2014 and April 2015. Projects in the list included sewer, water, roads, housing, and business expansions that had public assistance of some kind. The estimated jobs created was 469 with 882 retained jobs and a total of $234 million in investment.
April 22, 2015 – Prior to the Bi-State Regional Commission budgeting process, staff annually prepares the Transportation Planning Work Programs (TPWP) for the Quad Cities metropolitan planning area (MPA) and Region 9, serving rural Scott and Muscatine Counties. The work programs reflect staff work tasks/activities for the upcoming fiscal year.
The TPWPs include budgets for transportation planning short and long-range activities and delineate federal, state, and local planning funds. Activities include staffing transportation meetings, technical assistance, such as grant writing and traffic or trail studies/analysis, as well as the development of various modal plans and transportation funding programming. As an example, $5.1 million dollars was programmed to roadway projects in the Quad Cities and Region 9 during the current fiscal year.
March 25, 2015 – Doug Rick of the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) and Rebecca Marruffo of the Illinois DOT provided an update on the I-74 Mississippi River Bridge Corridor Project. The Interstate 74 Bridge Corridor project involves the replacement of the I-74 Bridge and over six miles of corridor improvements. It is in need of reconstruction due to crashes, recurring congestion, and significant maintenance. The bridge itself is functionally obsolete with no shoulders. The Iowa bound span was built in 1935 and the Illinois bound span in 1959.