$16 million from federal government to improve Rockford’s Chestnut and Walnut Streets

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford is getting more than $16 million from the federal government, and the money will be used to fix-up Chestnut and Walnut Streets.

City leaders said the project will better connect all parts of the “Forest City,” promoting city-wide growth.

One part of the grant will mean more accessibility for pedestrians and bike riders to get around the downtown area.

Kerry Knodle, an avid bike rider in the city, is optimistic a change will happen soon to help bike riders in the area.

“I know that the city has put bike lanes in a lot of areas. We need more of that, signage, and education for drivers,” Knodle said. “I bike ride at least 3 to 4 times a week. I go anywhere from a few miles around the neighborhood, to 20 to 30 mile rides in to the country side.”

The federal funding will help with the revitalization of Downton Rockford, specifically in the Chestnut and Walnut Streets in downtown. Alderperson Linda McNeely said better roads will help growth.

“I do believe that it needs improvement to the side walks and for the cyclists,” McNeely said. “There aren’t to many bicycle lanes down there, so for those who ride their bikes that will be an improvement.”

Knodle said as a bike rider, he has two main concerns.

“It’s safety and connectivity to me that are the important things,” Knodle said. “To those that may rely on a bicycle or transportation to work, or to shop, to get there safely.”

Although Knodle thinks it is fine that the downtown area is getting assistance, he believes Rockford as a whole should get the same attention.

“My interest would be, lets get the functionality for bicycles into all the neighborhoods of Rockford, not just concentrate in downtown,” Knodle said.

Knodle said he has seen improvement and efforts to make Rockford more bike-friendly, and only hopes it can continue to improve.

“So, I think it’s improving rapidly, and I hope this new investment of federal dollars or state dollars, or wherever, they’re getting them will help with that,” Knodle said.

Senator Dick Durbin said this will create some major improvements.

“Rockford is a great city, and most cities need some downtown revitalization,” Durbin said. “This will be a terrific investment in safe streets, and I think it’s going to help the whole commerce in the area.”

The city will also be using the funds to add three more electric buses to RMTD, as well as support recharging infrastructure as the state grows its electric footprint.

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