Innovative Funding Solution Addresses Local Needs, Strengthens Regional Economy
JOLIET –(ENEWSPF)–July 12, 2016. Governor Bruce Rauner joined IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn, area officials and business leaders to announce an agreement between the state, local governments and CenterPoint Properties. This agreement includes building a new Houbolt Road bridge linking Interstate 80 and the intermodal facilities in Will County that make up the country’s largest inland port. The first-of-its-kind project in Illinois is estimated to cost a combined $170 million to $190 million, to alleviate traffic congestion on local roads, improve safety and further strengthen the state’s economy, according to a release from Bruce Rauner’s office.
“The project is long overdue and will only enhance the region’s position as a freight hub for North America and an economic engine for the state,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said in the release. “Illinois needs more projects just like these creative solutions to fund infrastructure and keep Illinois competitive far into the 21st century.”
The historic agreement, according to the statement, is the result of the teamwork between the Illinois Department of Transportation, CenterPoint, the City of Joliet and Will County. Under the agreement, CenterPoint will build and operate a new tolled bridge on Houbolt Road over the Des Plaines River and the BNSF Railroad tracks at a cost of $150 million to $170 million. Will County is required to pass a resolution allowing tolls to be issued and collected by CenterPoint.
“This project will improve the flow of goods and services throughout the region, relieving the congestion and addressing the safety issues that are impacting many surrounding communities,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “By working closely with all stakeholders involved, we have come up with a creative approach that can be a model to solving infrastructure needs elsewhere in the state.”
An IDOT contribution of $21 million will widen Houbolt Road and reconfigure the existing interchange with I-80 to a diverging-diamond design to accommodate the increased traffic demand. The City of Joliet will work with IDOT to implement and oversee the improvements.
When complete, the project will provide two lanes of traffic in each direction between I-80 and CenterPoint’s intermodal facilities, which are home to thousands of jobs and $75 billion dollars in freight activity annually. The new link will relieve congestion on roads not built for heavy truck traffic, answer the safety concerns expressed by local communities and make the intermodal facilities more efficient. Construction could start as soon as 2017, with the bridge opening to traffic in late 2018 or early 2019.
About 11,000 vehicles per day are expected to use the bridge initially, including more than 6,600 trucks. By the year 2040, it is anticipated that traffic will grow to approximately 30,000 vehicles per day, including about 18,000 trucks.
Under Governor Rauner’s leadership, IDOT is committed to exploring innovative funding solutions to improve and modernize Illinois infrastructure, delivering project benefits more quickly and at a reduced cost to taxpayers.
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