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Local News

Joliet Union Station faces funding shortfall, too

JOLIET – The city of Joliet is running into the same kind of problems maintaining its old train station as it has had building a new one.

City officials last month said construction of a new train station has been stalled because of a combination of budget overruns and a dispute with the state over funding.

Now, roof repairs at the old Union Station are on hold after bids came 234 percent over estimate.

Not only that, but a state grant that was to pay for part of the work is not available amid the state budget crisis, according to City Manager Jim Hock.

“If the state adopts a budget, we anticipate these grants would reappear,” Hock told the Joliet City Council on Monday as he explained a decision to reject bids for the work.

Those bids also are far above the $230,000 engineer’s estimate for the work. Joliet in June received two bids: one for $768,700 and the other for $887,000.

The council voted Tuesday to reject the bids.

The project involves the second phase of roof repairs at Union Station, which was to be done this past summer. It includes rehabilitation of the roof over the banquet hall, the only part of Union Station still in use since it was closed more than a year ago.

Joliet plans to convert Union Station to new uses but it was closed as the city moved commuter platforms to the other side of the tracks in anticipation of a new train station being built.

That train station is on hold because of a funding shortfall.

City officials say there is enough money in the total budget for the downtown transportation center to build the train station. But there is not enough money to build both a train and bus station, which was the plan before the $42 million project became a $49.7 million project.

Joliet wants to build the train station now and the bus station later when money becomes available. But the state has rejected that plan and is calling for Joliet to come up with more money to do the entire project.

Steve Jones, special projects supervisor, said he and other city officials met two weeks ago with Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. The meeting also included top officials from Metra and Pace, as well as other local officials.

Jones said he should know in another two weeks whether Joliet, Metra and Pace can present a proposal to the state to move ahead with the project.

The state has contributed $30 million for the project and must sign off before construction bids can be awarded.

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