The city of Clinton will again vie for a portion of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER grant funds. About $2.5 million will be sought to help shore up funding for the Camanche Avenue reconstruction project.

Construction is set to begin on the  $14.7 million project this year. City Engineer Jason Craft said much of the two-year project will be paid for by the Iowa Department of Transportation, but the city will be obligated to pay about $5.3 million toward its completion.

The $2.5 million would help cover the cost of street lights and pedestrial pathway lights, which have an estimated cost of about $1 million.

The remaining money would be used for concrete structures, brick sidewalks, and work on connecting roads between Camanche Avenue and Liberty Avenue.

Craft said significant alterations have been made to the design of Camanche Avenue in the interest of saving money, but the city still has to achieve uniformity with the already completed Liberty Avenue.

“We scaled it back quite a bit in the project, but we left some in there so it would look the same as Liberty Avenue,” Craft said.

Clinton Regional Development Corporation President Steven Ames will travel to Washington D.C. next week in part to lobby on the city’s behalf. Ames, along with city and area leaders, will advocate Camanche Avenue’s value to economic development in the area.

“It’s the gateway to our region,” Ames said. “As people come in from the west heading east, it would be the first development that they see.”

Legislators representing the region, or their aides and advisors will meet with Ames over two days next week. He said their support is needed, as TIGER grant funds are extremely competitive.

The city previously applied for TIGER grant funds in 2011, but the grant request was denied. By the time funds had been awarded, it was revealed that the U.S. DOT received about $14 billion in requests for only $500 million available funds.

But TIGER grant fund distribution is weighted toward projects that could have a positive economic impact on the surrounding area. Ames said the Camanche Avenue project meets that goal.

“It’s a link to economic development,” Ames said. “By having strong highways and corridors, (it increases) potential to attract new investment opportunities to the region. ...This project provides needed and long overdue improvement.”

The East Central Intergovernmental Association handled much of the grant writing. Marla Quinn, Grants and Development Coordinator for ECIA, said that letters of recommendation and a cost/benefit analysis were included in the application, which was submitted Monday. She said that in writing the grant, she tried to demonstrate how the project has the capacity to improve the quality of life for people in the region.

Final TIGER grant awards should be announced sometime this summer, according to Quinn, though she was unsure of an exact date. Craft said that if the city is unable to obtain the grant funds, it will likely need to bond for the additional costs.

Craft added that the Iowa DOT has been “generous” in sharing the costs of the project. The Iowa DOT paid for design costs, highway and pavement costs, and will assume all costs of traffic control and mobilization.

“Basically, they’re paying for the highway and we’re paying for everything else,” Craft said.

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