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Local News

Joliet transportation center costs now at $46 million

JOLIET – City Manager Jim Hock plans to report this week that the downtown transportation center budget now is about $46 million, with the city’s share about $2.3 million more than first estimated in 2010.

Hock said the additional city money would be devoted to renovations at the old Union Station, which is being replaced by a new train station.

Councilman Jim McFarland called for a report on project costs earlier this month.

Hock will likely make his report at the Tuesday City Council meeting. The council also meets for its workshop meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

“We are within budget,” Hock said Friday.

In 2010, the cost of the entire project was set at $42 million.

At that time, former Gov. Pat Quinn announced $32 million in state funding for the project, in part because of the potential to support high-speed rail.

The city of Joliet’s share of the project was set at $7.5 million. Hock said that cost is now budgeted at $9.8 million.

The original financial projections included another $2.2 million coming from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to support a realignment of railroad tracks that would support better freight transportation through downtown.

Since then, other agencies, including Metra and Pace Suburban Bus Service, also have contributed.

Hock plans to outline to the City Council the project’s costs.

The city also is negotiating with the Illinois Department of Transportation over additional costs associated with the transportation center.

“The cost of the project has gone up,” Hock said. “That’s what we’re talking about with the state, as to who’s responsible for that.”

In addition to the realignment of railroad tracks and a new train station, the project includes a new bus station and new boarding platforms for Metra’s Rock Island and Heritage Corridor trains.

Joliet’s share of the costs cover engineering, land acquisition and demolition, Hock said.

But the city always intended to have about $2 million available for renovations at the old Union Station.

Union Station has largely been closed since boarding was shifted to the other side of the railroad tracks. But the city plans to maintain the historic structure and wants to attract office and retail users that would pay rent.

The primary occupant now is a banquet facility on the second floor.

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