JOLIET – The exterior of the new train station is nearly done, but it won’t open until early 2018.
Interior work still needs to be done. But the biggest task lying ahead is the installation of a new Metra Heritage Corridor boarding platform, said Lisa Dorothy, the city’s project manager for the job.
“Early next year is the goal,” Dorothy said of the likely opening day for the latest additions to Joliet’s new transit center.
The train station is the most visible part of the project yet. Commuters and passers-by have had a better idea of what the station will look like with the walls erected and the metal roof on top.
That is actual limestone on the exterior, Dorothy said.
However, unlike Union Station, the city’s former train station on the other side of the tracks from the new one, the walls on the new station are not built of solid limestone.
The new station is supported by precast concrete with the limestone added to give the new facility some aesthetic symmetry with Union Station, a limestone building erected in 1912.
“It’s a facade, but it’s a facade made from real materials,” Dorothy said. “This building is completely enveloped in limestone, and there’s a strip of
granite on the bottom.”
The last job left on the exterior is the final installation of windows, she said.
Commuters who use the station will have access to a tunnel that will take them to a new Heritage Corridor boarding platform that will be in the middle of the tracks.
The boarding platform has yet to be installed and will be a somewhat delicate operation, Dorothy said, since it will have to be done with some efficiency in the middle of a working railroad.
The new platform will be eight inches higher than the tracks. Heritage Corridor passengers now are boarding from temporary platforms that are the same height as the tracks. Heritage Corridor passengers should not be affected by the platform installation, Dorothy said.
“Because we’re doing construction in a live zone, we actually get slowed down by maintaining public access,” she said.
The Metra Rock Island boarding platform and waiting areas, already in place, was the first phase of the new transit center to be completed.
The train station and Heritage Corridor platforms are not the last phases of the project. But they are the last phases for which there is funding.
A bus station with a turnaround area also is in the plans. But the city and state do not have the $7.5 million needed to build the bus facility. That part of the $51 million project has been put on hold until the funding can be found.