JOLIET – The low bid for a new train station came in $2.1 million over budget, leading to another possible price spike in the construction of the Gateway Transportation Center.
The city first will see what caused the bids to come in high, City Manager Jim Hock said.
“Then we are going to sit down with IDOT [Illinois Department of Transportation] to see if we can adjust the scope and price of the project,” Hock said. “We’ll be sitting down with IDOT to see what we can do to stay within budget.”
The city also has learned that a $130,000 state grant that was to be used to fix a leaky roof above the Union Station banquet hall was at least put on hold and possibly canceled.
The Gateway Transportation Center, which includes the old Union Station building for commercial uses, adds a new train station and loading platforms, while also bringing a bus station downtown.
The bus station already has been downsized for budget reasons.
The entire project was last pegged at $46 million, which compares to the original estimate of $42 million when it started in 2010. The city’s share of the project is $9.5 million, but that already is $2.3 million higher than originally budgeted.
A state grant funds the bulk of the project. Freight railroads that run through downtown also have contributed money.
The city already has moved commuter platforms to the other side of the railroad tracks from Union Station, which has been shut down except for the banquet facility.
“We cannot [do without] a train station,” said Councilman Jim McFarland, who has raised questions previously about the cost of the project. “We’re kind of stuck here with this project, and we need to see it through to completion.”
McFarland, however, said the city needs to “see what we can to do save costs and still have a functioning train station.”
The city got two bids on the project to build the train station and commuter platforms. The project was estimated at $13.5 million.
Walsh Construction submitted the low bid at $15.6 million. John Burns Construction bid $16.8 million.
Hock said city engineering consultants will meet with Walsh Construction to identify what aspects of the project cost more than expected.
The grant for roof repairs at Union Station fell victim to the state’s budget problems. It was among 400 state grants canceled recently, Hock said.
The city has set aside $1.6 million of the Gateway Transportation Center budget for renovations at Union Station, which could be used for roof repairs. But if the city has to pay more than expected for the new train station, Hock said, “it will eat away at that $1.6 million.”