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Local News

Joliet about to take first step in opening up Chicago Street

JOLIET – A first step in a future reopening of Chicago Street could be taken Tuesday.

The Joliet City Council is slated to vote on the hiring of an engineering consultant to help the city prepare for the future connection of Chicago Street through property that is now a parking lot.

The connection of Chicago Street has been talked about for years as a key element in plans to revitalize the downtown area. The main thoroughfare into downtown is now cut off, which diverts traffic entering from Interstate 80.

On Tuesday, the council will consider a $150,000 contract with TranSystems, a national company with offices in Chicago, for Phase 1 engineering services.

The potential connection would go through what is now a parking lot owned by Will County. Joliet officials are still negotiating a transaction that would give the city control over the land next to the county courthouse.

But City Manager Jim Hock said a deal will be done by the time the project is ready for construction. That could be more than a year away.

Hock noted there will be three phases of engineering to be completed before road work can begin.

“These are lengthy steps, working with the state on the engineering,” he told the council at a workshop meeting Monday. “Both parties [city and county] are sure we’ll have an agreement in terms of use of the land by the time we’re ready for construction.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation will be involved because Chicago Street south of the courthouse is Illinois Route 53. And north of the courthouse, Chicago Street intersects with Jefferson Street, which is U.S. Route 30 at that point and also controlled by the state.

Public Works Director James Trizna said the project will involve reconstruction of two Chicago Street intersections that the state will have to approve: Jefferson Street and Washington Street.

Planning and engineering for the project is likely to take at least a year, Trizna said.

Trizna described the project to the City Council Public Service Committee, which met Monday before the council meeting.

He said construction would likely go beyond connecting Chicago Street.

“We’re realistically probably going to reconstruct Chicago Street about a block north of Jefferson,” Trizna told the committee. “We have to start preparing for the future.”

A downtown plan developed by the Camiros consulting firm for Joliet last year calls for Chicago Street to be widened to allow for more street-side parking. The plan also suggests bicycle paths and other amenities aimed at bringing more activity to the street.

Kansas City-based TranSystems was one of four companies invited to submit qualifications for engineering services.

Trizna said staff believed TranSystems “had the best understanding of the project.”

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