CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A $42 million road improvement project could grind to a halt.
Both Champaign and Urbana’s mayors wrote a letter to state lawmakers saying the MCORE project is in trouble without a state budget. Federal grant dollars are processed through the Illinois Department of Transportation. If the state shuts down, the project’s completion could be delayed for another year.
Mayors Deb Feinen and Diane Marlin say that’s unacceptable. But Green Street business owners say no matter what happens, they’re getting the worst end of the deal.
The MCORE project is supposed to take two years, but Champaign and Urbana’s mayors fear, if the state doesn’t get its act together, it could take up to a third.
“It’s a mess. I can’t envision the good that’s supposed to come, if it ever comes.”
Jack DeAtley is one of the landlords of the University Centre Shopping Complex. He says at least one of his tenants tells him they’ll have to close up shop.
“Businesses are doing terrible,” he says, “there’s no business that’s doing good.”
“Some of the business through here, they’re contemplating closure,” says Dan Nusbaum. “They’re not sure if they’re going to make it.”
Nusbaum owns the Green Street Cafe.
“I believe they got $46 million for the project? The city could’ve figured out a way to save a few bones for the businesses that are being affected by the road closure,” he says.
The mayors say the project is on a tight timeline. And if it gets delayed?
“I don’t want to think about that, honestly,” says Nusbaum.
DeAtley is a stickler about not letting traffic cut through his parking lot, but he says he sees more cars doing that than stopping by, and worries it’s only going to get worse.
“We are open,” says DeAtley. “If you get here, you ought to get a medal. The signage is terrible, the lanes are terrible, but you can actually get here.”
The mayors say MCORE work in front of the Illini Union is scheduled to be done three days before the fall semester starts. If that’s not finished on time, no cars or buses would be able to get through.
The project isn’t the only thing the mayors say will be affected. They’re urging lawmakers not to approve a property tax freeze, saying that would directly impact funding for police and fire pensions, and libraries.