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Local News

State's final approval of Joliet train station delayed again

Passengers walk along the Metra Rock Island District platform after arriving Sept. 26, 2014, in downtown Joliet. The expected final approval of bids for a train station has been delayed because of new cost overruns, although the latest snap may only be for a few weeks.
Passengers walk along the Metra Rock Island District platform after arriving Sept. 26, 2014, in downtown Joliet. The expected final approval of bids for a train station has been delayed because of new cost overruns, although the latest snap may only be for a few weeks.

JOLIET – The expected final approval of bids for a downtown Joliet train station has been delayed because of new cost overruns, although the latest holdup may be for only a few weeks.

City officials announced two weeks ago that Joliet received tentative approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation to award the contract on the station and that final approval would come at the end of January.

But state approval has been complicated by an estimated $400,000 in new costs added to the winning bid since it was put on hold in June.

City officials now say they expect the matter to be cleared up this month and hope to have final state approval before the end of February.

“I’m confident that we’re moving forward, but it’s a complication,” Deputy City Manager Steve Jones said. “It’s a challenge. There are challenges to this project. We have to keep moving forward.”

The latest challenge developed since the award of a $15.6 million bid to Walsh Construction was put on hold in June. The state at that time raised concerns that increased costs in what is now a $50 million project no longer left enough money to pay for a bus station that was part of the original plan, when the project was estimated at $42 million.

The state is putting $30 million into the project, which also includes a realignment of railroad tracks and new commuter platforms, and has final approval of bid awards.

Local officials spent more than six months persuading the state to allow Joliet to build the train station now and bus station later when the city could find funding.

In the meantime, Jones said, Walsh Construction lost two subcontractors that had originally signed up for the project and is facing higher steel prices than it did in June.

“If you have to replace the subcontractors, any new ones would be based on February 2016 prices, not June 2015 prices,” Jones said.

Walsh has estimated that the price of the job will rise by $400,000, Jones said. The state, he said, has told Joliet officials to decide whether they want to submit the original bid for approval and then seek approval for the additional costs later. Or, the city could submit the revised higher bid for approval.

City Manager Jim Hock said he expects the city to make a decision by Feb. 16, when the City Council could vote on the bid. The bid would then be submitted to the state for approval.

Design change order

Also this week, the council approved $85,000 in additional funding for Knight Engineering/Architects, which is doing design work on the project. It was the eighth change order allowing additional payments to Knight since the firm was awarded the contract in 2011.

The change order was needed to redesign a train station retaining wall after the Union Pacific Railroad rejected a previous design, according to a City Council memo. The wall originally was designed to be built with metal. The railroad is concerned about corrosion and wants the wall built with concrete.

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