Illinois invests in green infrastructure - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Illinois invests in green infrastructure

Permeable paving and other forms of green infrastructure can help reduce stormwater runoff and strain on sewer systems.

MPC Research Assistant Emily Miller contributed to this post.

July 21 was a good day for stormwater solutions throughout Illinois.  The Ill. Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) announced the first 14 recipients of $5 million in Ill. Green Infrastructure Grants (IGIG).  MPC was particularly excited to learn that Chicago’s 35th Ward had received a $200,000 grant a Green Development Corridor Program for a portion of Milwaukee Avenue.  MPC is a technical advisor on the project.

The 35th Ward will establish a sub-granting program for private property owners within the Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor. Over the next three years, the 35th Ward and its technical advisers will evaluate applications for sub-grants on a rolling basis, ultimately awarding $200,000 in IGIG funding and leveraging at least $66,667 in private investment. For any given project, the IGIG will cover a maximum of 75% of the project costs, leaving the grant recipient responsible for only 25% of the total project cost, including all design costs.  In order to provide capital and speed completion of these projects, a third partner, the Chicago Community Loan Fund, will provide the state’s portion of project costs upfront, and then be reimbursed by the state.  

The target area is an approximately 79 acre urban corridor along N. Milwaukee Ave. between N. Kimball and N. California in the 35th Ward of Chicago. Due to the dense urban setting – over 95% of the surfaces are impermeable and there is less than one acre of park space – the corridor is an ideal setting for the implementation of green infrastructure improvements to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution.

After experiencing firsthand the property damage and public safety threat that stormwater flooding and combined sewer overflow has caused, it’s no surprise this proposal was met with warm reception by the residents of area. Almost two dozen individuals and businesses of the community offered letters of approval and support for the grant. As one small business owner wrote, “We wholeheartedly support the efforts of 35th Ward Alderman Rey Colon to obtain funding from the Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant Program… and we cannot think of a better, more visible place.”

The Milwaukee Green Avenue Corridor and its residents will shortly be home to a variety of green infrastructure projects: rain gardens, tree boxes acting as infiltration planters, green roofs, green walls, bioswales, permeable pavement, rain barrels, and stormwater reuse systems.  These projects will improve stormwater runoff quality and reduce runoff volume, while also maximizing the benefits of existing and planned green alleys and rebates made possible through the Chicago Sustainable Backyard Program. Every project will be required to include an educational component, and highly visible and accessible projects are encouraged. 

 MPC will run four workshops on green infrastructure practices for potential sub-grantees. In addition to helping develop street signage, brochures, and other educational materials, MPC will help develop selection criteria and performance measures for the IGIG projects. This hands-on, integrated approach will also help with evaluating the 35th Ward’s project as a case study to be delivered for IEPA review-most likely an exemplar for future green infrastructure endeavors.

The residents of the Milwaukee Avenue Green Corridor should be excited to start this project. Not only will the new green infrastructure projects help reduce stormwater runoff problems, it will continue to make the 35th Ward an example of what green infrastructure and sustainable urban planning can really do. As Rey Colon sees it, “The 35 Ward has a great opportunity to pave the way in demonstrating this for the City of Chicago.”

IEPA awarded IGIG funding for 13 other projects throughout the state (see below), including work in Aurora, Elgin, Joliet, and the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago.  MPC will be developing case studies and tracking the progress of these projects, so stay tuned.  Applicants that did not receive awards this year are encouraged to apply for the 2012 IGIG award.  The deadline for submission is December 15, 2011.  IEPA will award another $5 million in 2012.







City of Joliet

Footing Tile Separation Program


City of Elgin

Lord Street Basin CSO Green Infrastructure Retrofit


Village of Riverside

Riverside Green Pavement Projects


Village of Elmwood Park

Elmwood Park Green Alleys Project


Galesburg Sanitary District

Footing Drain Disconnection Program


Village of Niles

Niles Bio-infiltration Facility



City of Danville

Danville High School Campus Improvement


Southwestern Ill. Resource Conservation & Development

Alton Riparian Zone Restoration


Northbrook School District 28

Greenbriar School


City of Chicago, 35th ward

Milwaukee Ave. Green Development Corridor Program



Safer Pest Control Project

Sustainable Sites Initiative at Commonwealth in the Village


Beverly Area Planning Assn.

Green Parking Lot and Rain Garden


City of Aurora

Downer Place Bio-infiltration Project


Association of Illinois Soil & Water Conservation Districts

Green Infrastructure BMPs at Illinois State Fairgrounds



  1. 1. Stamped Concrete Atlanta from Atlanta on August 10, 2011

    I've seen many driveways with this type of surface. it's exciting to see many cities applying it to their own roads and parking lots. The concrete jungle effect proves itself to be quite detrimental to the environment.

  2. 2. Apartment Sign Guy from on August 14, 2011

    I'm glad to see they are going green with the signage. With all the new technology these days, it is wise to include this in the package.

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