The Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways has announced a fifth round of Invest in Cook, an $8.5 million program to cover some of the cost of planning and feasibility studies, engineering, right-of-way acquisition, and construction associated with transportation improvements sponsored by local and regional governments and private partners. This program is designed to solicit applications for improvements consistent with the five priorities of Connecting Cook County, the County’s first long-range transportation plan in 75 years, as well as the recommendations of more specialized Cook County transportation plans.

Invest in Cook prioritizes transportation proposals using objective and transparent selection criteria to ensure responsible expenditure of limited resources. It strengthens the partnerships and strategic matching of funding from various sources to expedite the completion of projects vital to a stronger economy and more livable communities.

Eligible Applicants and Projects

Eligible applicants include local governments, regional transportation authorities, transit agencies, natural resource or public land agencies, and any other local or regional governmental entity with responsibility for transportation or recreational trails within Cook County. Private for-profit or non-profit organizations can submit project proposals as a lead applicant, but they are required to partner with a public sponsor that meets the above criteria. Lead applicants are limited to a single project application. Staff salaries, the purchase and/or maintenance of rolling stock (rail cars buses, vans, etc.), and stand-alone lighting projects are not an eligible expense under the Invest in Cook program.

To foster the development of quality projects and help projects meet qualifications required to receive federal funding, applications can be submitted for projects at any stage of development, from planning and feasibility studies, to engineering design, right-of-way acquisition, and all the way through to final construction.

Eligible project proposals should be consistent with the priorities set forth in Connecting Cook County and expand the County’s involvement in multimodal projects, and can include proposals for transit, bicycle, pedestrian, freight, roadway modes of transportation and bridge improvement projects.

Helpful Resources

Cook County, Connecting Cook County Plan:

Cook County, Cook County Freight Plan:

Cook County, Partnering for Prosperity:

Cook County, Planning for Progress:

IDOT, Getting Around Illinois Site for Traffic Counts:

HUD, CDBG Eligibility Map:

CMAP, Travel Time Reliability Map:

CNT, Transit Deserts in Cook County:

Deadlines and How to Apply
The call for projects opens on January 13, 2021 and ends at 5:00 PM CST on March 12, 2021.

Program Description
Applicants should read the detailed description of the program before filling out and submitting an application.

Application Form
Applicants must fill out the 2021 application form to be considered for an Invest in Cook grant.

Application Submission: Submission Form
All applications and attachments must be submitted electronically at the link provided above.

CCDoTH hosted a virtual Invest in Cook workshop for potential applicants on Wednesday, January 27, 2021.  The workshop was held in conjunction with the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development who provided information on applying for Community Development Block Grants.  If you missed the workshop, you may listen and view it here.