CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University Carbondale has received another Rebuild Illinois Plan grant to improve infrastructure on campus.
The state announced Thursday an award of over $4.3 million for the replacement of sewer line, repairs to the campus streamline, and tunnel at the university.
The funding will come from the bipartisan capital plan — the first in nearly a decade, according to the state. The initiative is part of the Rebuild Illinois Plan.
The Illinois Capital Development Board will oversee the project’s renovation under the protocol for state-appropriated capital projects, according to state documents.
Lesa Branham, a spokesperson for the Capital Development Board, said there will be no matching funds required of the university.
SIU System President Dan Mahony praised the state effort to improve the university.
“Just like the important background work our faculty and staff do to ensure academic programs and support services meet the needs of our students, there exists an entire level of infrastructure buried in the ground or hidden behind walls that ensures our facilities operate at full capacity,” Mahony said in a news release.
“Thanks to the commitment of our SIU System legislative delegation and the leadership of Governor Pritzker through Rebuild Illinois, these ‘behind the scenes’ improvements will ensure the Carbondale campus is ready to support the needs of our growing student body for many years to come,” he said.
Judy Marshall, SIU’s vice chancellor for administration and finance, also expressed gratitude.
“The university is grateful for the support of the state of Illinois to help us address deferred maintenance projects on the campus. With much of the infrastructure more than 50 years old, the needs are many,” she said in a statement to The Southern on Friday.
Marshall said the infrastructure upgrades could save money on future costly repairs.
“The work should eliminate unexpected failures which result in labor and material costs as well as potentially closing campus buildings while emergency repairs are made,” Marshall said.
She said the work should begin in the next six-to-12 months and should not impact students.
The area's state legislators also weighed in.
“Today’s announcement of infrastructure funding to Southern Illinois University Carbondale is the type of project we were all thankful to see addressed in the Rebuild Illinois capital plan. The critical services provided by Illinois’ higher education system necessitates that we maintain the facilities properly, and a new sewer network throughout the entire campus will help ensure the uninterrupted longevity of the institution,” State Senator Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said.
“Southern Illinois University in Carbondale provides a tremendous benefit to the people of Southern Illinois, and I’m appreciative to see this amount of infrastructure investment. As a member of the House Appropriations – Higher Education Committee I hear all too frequently this type of financial plea from our universities, and it is our duty to make sure that the institutions’ needs are being met,” State Rep. Paul Jacobs, R-Carbondale.
A year after Illinois' first capital plan in a decade cemented $84 million in funding for a remodel of Southern Illinois University's Communications Building, architects have been chosen for the project, the state announced in a news release.
This is not the first round of funding the university has received from the capital plan.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in January 2020 announced $84 million in funding for a remodel of SIU's Communications Building as part of the Rebuild Illinois Plan. The Communications Building was constructed in 1964 and the university has long awaited funding to provide updates to the home of its College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. The college offers programs in radio, television and digital media; journalism; cinema and photography; communication studies; and theater.
The Rebuild Illinois capital plan passed in 2019 with bipartisan super-majorities and will invest $45 billion in roads, bridges, railways, universities, early childhood centers, and state aging facilities, according to a news release from the state. This will include things like a new Illinois State Police crime lab and improvements to the Quincy Veterans’ Home over the next five years, creating and supporting an estimated 540,000 jobs over the life of the plan and revitalizing local economies across the state.