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Cook County, Illinois, officials last week put out a call for transportation project proposals that may qualify for "Invest in Cook" grants.The county's Department of Transportation and Highways will make available $8.5 million in 2019 grant funding to help cover the cost of planning, engineering, right-of-way acquisition and construction associated with transportation improvements sponsored by local governments and private partners. The projects would be part of Connecting Cook County, the county's initiative to build and maintain a comprehensive regional transportation network. The initiative is the county's first long-range transportation plan in 75 years, county officials said in a press release.In its first two years, Invest in Cook awarded $14.2 million to 64 projects throughout the county, they said."In order to ensure that Cook County remains a strong and vibrant transportation hub for the region and the entire nation, it is our duty to find creative ways to enhance our transportation infrastructure," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. "Invest in Cook has succeeded in creating collaborative projects between municipalities and transportation entities resulting in stronger and more livable communities for the mutual benefit of businesses and residents."The county's transportation department has expanded its focus on roads and bridges to partnering with local communities to build and maintain a tranpsportation network that also addresses the need for pedestrian, bicycle, transit and freight facilities, county officials said.The department is seeking grant applications from local governments and transit agencies. Private for-profit and nonprofit organizations may also submit proposals, but they must have a public sponsor. Applications must be received no later than March 15.County transportation staff will evaluate and score the proposals to determine which projects will be chosen this year. Award letters will be sent out in the summer. Additional program information is available via this link.