How the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill could impact Rochelle

‘Whatever money is available, we're going to go after it’


ROCHELLE — A $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill was signed by President Joe Biden on Monday that plans to invest $550 billion over the next five years on bridges, roads, broadband, water and energy systems and more. 

Rochelle City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said he’s interested to see how the money will be allocated and and eventually received by cities like his and how it can be spent. He believes it could possibly help the city fund some projects sooner than anticipated. 

“Whatever money is available from that, we're going to go after it,” Fiegenschuh said. “I don't know how they're going to allocate it. I don't know if it's going to be like the American Rescue Plan Act funds where states and cities get a portion of it based on population. But however it's allocated, we're going to go for whatever we can get.”

When looking at where the money could help the city, Fiegenschuh cited the fact that Rochelle owns its own fiber and telecommunications utility. With the money earmarked for water and wastewater improvements, he said it could also help fund potential upgrades at Rochelle Municipal Utilities' wastewater treatment plant. 

Fiegenschuh said the city needs to continue to plan for infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years. When Rochelle’s mayor and city council approved its most recent strategic plan in 2018, they asked staff to start looking 20 years into the future for capital investments. 

“Because a lot of the investments we make have a life of 20 years or more, they want us planning long-term,” Fiegenschuh said. “Whatever money we get, I think it'll help us maybe take some of those projects that are out 10-15 years and maybe fund them sooner. We'll be right there trying to get our share."

Rochelle’s city manager said he was happy to see something like the infrastructure bill at the federal level. He believes one of the most important functions of the federal government is to support infrastructure. He believes the bill will go a long way. 

“I'm glad they did it,” Fiegenschuh said. “A good example is Illinois Route 251 through Rochelle. Maybe if the state gets some of this, it will move up that expansion of Illinois Route 251 from Illinois Route 38 north. That road is in really rough shape. I don't know, but projects like this, when they infuse that kind of money into the system that wasn't there before, maybe it moves them up because they have the money to do it now.”