Editorial: Stimulus plan could be huge for Charleston

There’s no denying that Charleston could use a little pick-me-up. Businesses such as AJ’s are shutting their doors and some of the streets could use a little TLC.

But the city of Charleston is taking the right steps to give itself the boost it needs.

Charleston is requesting a portion of President Barack Obama’s $825 billion economic stimulus plan – that is, if Congress gives it the go.

The funds would be used toward a new interchange north of Charleston to connect Illinois Route 130 to Interstate 57 and a new water main for the water treatment plant, which would lead to resurfacing a much-used road.

Charleston could not have selected better projects for which the money is to be used.

The two projects Charleston has requested funds for would benefit the city economically, and when times are as rough as they are now, who wouldn’t want that?

State Rep. Chapin Rose said a new interchange would spark business growth in the industrial park on Charleston’s north side. Construction itself would offer employment opportunities.

“Construction is anticipated to create 80 to 120 construction jobs and as many as an additional 100 positions,” Rose said.

Earlier this month, Rose endorsed the funding for a proposed interchange in a letter to Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Tim Johnson.

As for a new water main for the water treatment plant, fixing it would lead to the ability to fix other projects, which is a plus.

The water main is 125 years old and connects the water treatment plant near McKinley Avenue to Lincoln Avenue. It could stand to be replaced.

Curt Buescher, Charleston Public Works director, said the current water main has not had any leaks, but it’s old and needs to be replaced.

Once the water main is replaced, the city could begin roadwork projects such as resurfacing 20th Street.

Buescher said traffic for stores such as Wal-Mart has lead to the street’s worn surface.

Some of the roadways in Charleston are not in the best condition and resurfacing a well-trafficked street such as 20th Street would be safer for drivers and would improve Charleston’s appearance.

So please, Congress, approve the stimulus plan. And please, President Obama, do not forget us here in central Illinois.

The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at [email protected].