JOLIET – Will County leaders are looking for firms to perform work as part of the recently launched Will County Community Friendly Freight Mobility Plan.
The Will County Board approved Aug. 18 a $150,000 contract with Ann L. Schneider & Associates LLC, for project management of the study, using Regional Tax Authority funds.
Will County Center for Economic Development CEO John Greuling said Tuesday that the study is more than just a transportation study that defines which roads need to be improved.
The first chapter will focus on current freight mobility conditions, such as where freight comes from and where it goes. The second chapter will look at necessary freight logistics improvements during the next 20 years or so.
“The top priority is widening Interstate 80 and rebuilding interchanges,” Greuling said. “This study should validate that it will help freight mobility. Without the study, we believe it will, but we want to see what the numbers will look like.”
Greuling said other chapters will focus on quality-of-life issues, how public transportation can be better used and workforce mobility. He said a big challenge in communities across the country is a lack of an available trained workforce.
Greuling expects transportation and engineering consultation firms to show interest in performing parts of the study. But the breadth of the study may require subcontractors that specialize in certain areas, such as land use and workforce mobility, to be brought in.
“It will probably be teams rather than a single entity doing the study,” Greuling said.
Schneider’s firm helped determine the scope of the study. The firm was then selected to manage the project and oversee its various chapters. The county has released a request for qualifications to find interested firms to perform the work.
The tentative schedule notes that Sept. 1 was the deadline for RFQ submissions. Interviews will be conducted in mid-September and the County Board will then award contracts. The target date of completion for the final draft of the study report is March 31, 2017.
Greuling said leaders want the study in place before the federal funding application period, which starts each April.
Competition for funding via the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which authorized $4.5 billion from the Federal Highway Administration for national freight projects and $6.2 billion for states for local projects, is expected to be extremely difficult.
“We think we can make a better case for funding with this work we’re doing,” Greuling said.
Depending on who is elected president in November, Greuling said, freight might be made an even bigger priority and receive more funding.