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Politics

Governor Pritzker Announces $8 Million Plan To Improve Rockford's West Side

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Connie Kuntz
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Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the mic. Behind him, from L-R: State Rep. Maurice West, State Sen. Steve Stadelman, and Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

Governor J.B. Pritzker was in Rockford on Friday with Mayor Tom McNamara, State Sen. Steve Stadelman, and State Rep. Maurice West. The Democrats came together to celebrate the progress of the $45 billion capital plan known as Rebuild Illinois.

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Credit Connie Kuntz
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Illinois officials emerge from Rockford Police Department to share updates and announcements about the $45 billion capital plan known as Rebuild Illinois.

Money from the plan is being used to improve statewide infrastructure like roads, bridges, education and broadband internet services. The governor also said that part of the money will go toward a much anticipated train project.

"We're dedicating $275 million to establish passenger rail service between Rockford and Chicago."

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Credit Connie Kuntz
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Senator Steve Stadelman at the mic. Behind him, from L-R: State Rep. Maurice West, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

The governor was quick to credit State Sen. Stadelman with getting this project pushed forward. He said, "Senator Stadelman made this a priority. He mentioned it over and over and over again, and told me that the people of Rockford wanted it. And we're bringing it to you, Senator!"

The senator, in turn, expressed appreciation for the governor. "He's no stranger to Rockford and I can't even count the number of times he's been here. That shows his commitment to this community and this region -- to make sure we have what we need."

Stadelman spoke about the efforts he and the governor have made to make Illinois a business friendly state. He said it hasn't been easy: "We spend a lot of time and angst and arguments in Springfield about what we have to do to make it business friendly." He continued, "Transportation infrastructure is what it's all about. Whether it's roads, bridges, passenger rail service, or the airport; this drives economic development." 

The governor also announced that Rockford's west side is receiving funds from Rebuild Illinois that are specifically dedicated to widening W. State Street into a 4-lane divided roadway. Pritzker said, "This $8 million project won't just widen the road. We're also reconstructing the pavement, upgrading the sanitary and storm sewer systems, and improving traffic safety signals."

The governor said the west side can expect decorative lighting and an ADA compliant pedestrian and bicycle path adjacent to the roadway.

Before introducing the governor, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara spoke about how the first phase of Rebuild Illinois has already helped improve Rockford's west side. He cited the new Save A Lot grocery store and Crusader Community Health Clinic as examples. The clinic, he said, is bringing their corporate headquarters to W. State Street.

McNamara said, "These things would not have happened without the State and the City's partnerships." He continued, "These types of partnerships will only continue to further the tremendous growth that we're starting to see throughout the entire city of Rockford and in an area that needs, desperately, more growth." 

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Credit Connie Kuntz
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Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara at the mic. Behind him, from L-R: State Rep. Maurice West, State Sen. Steve Stadelman, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Upstage of them, IDOT workers who will benefit from employment opportunities Rebuild Illinois provides.

The mayor also said Rebuild Illinois helps create jobs for men and women. Several employees from IDOT who will benefit from employment opportunities that Rebuild Illinois provides stood upstage of the elected officials during the conference.

State Rep. Maurice West also spoke. He invited the crowd to turn their heads. He said, "See behind you. It's the Fairgrounds Housing Projects. People in that community sometimes feel like they're overlooked and not really represented in the city. This project is going to be one of those projects that's going to bring more jobs to this area. It's going to revitalize the way this area looks. It's going to bring more health and vitality to the people around here."

The state representative said, "This is going to be a great project and I want the people in this area to know that this is one of many returns on your investment when it comes to the capital project of Rebuild Illinois."

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Credit Connie Kuntz
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State Rep. Maurice West at the mic.

As the governor concluded the conference, he said he didn't have an "exact timeline" for when the construction would begin but those details would be forthcoming.