Trip to DC looks to grow city's economy & improve transportation

Published 05/10 2013 06:25PM

Updated 05/10 2013 06:35PM

CHAMPAIGN -- The mayor is asking lawmakers for help to grow the city's economy and bring more people to town. This week, Mayor Don Gerard and local officials took a trip to Washington, D.C. for Champaign County First.

They make the trip every year to advocate on behalf of the city. This year, there was a specific focus. The big topic this year is transportation.

City officials say making it easier for people to get in and out of the city is key. It will bring in more visitors and create more jobs, all of which will boost the economy.

That's why Mayor Gerard and the Chamber of Commerce urged lawmakers to draft a transportation bill. It would grant federal funds to fix the city's roads, making it easier for travelers. It would also help fund projects like building a high-speed rail system, upgrade Amtrak and bring in more flights to Willard Airport.

Right now, there's no bill in the works yet. But Gerard says what they got out of this meeting is some pretty good advice from people at the top.

Gerard says there are some guaranteed changes coming. They'll be adding more lines and getting better equipment for the trains, including Wi-Fi. He says Amtrak officials hope to see those plans happen in the next 2 - 3 years.

Gerard says the plans are pretty far off and there's not even a price tag attached to them. But, he says he's confident the meeting made an impression.

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