JOLIET – The new train station could at least be partially open by early March.
The station will open to accommodate Metra passengers who need to get inside to get access to the new tunnel that will take them to the Heritage Corridor platforms, said Lisa Dorothy, the city’s project engineer for the new transportation complex.
“I’m hoping for the end of February or early March,” Dorothy said.
If the station is not completed by then, she said, a rolling door will shut off the rest of the station from the walkway to the new tunnels.
Commuters will use the tunnels to get to a boarding area that is in the middle of the four tracks, including freight lines as well as Metra and Amtrak lines.
Dorothy did not have a firm date for the opening of the station when interviewed last week.
Construction of the boarding area has started, and contractors are on a strict 35-day deadline to finish after starting Jan. 8 on the platform project, which does interrupt the normal flow of train traffic.
“I have a maximum allowable of 35 days from the railroads,” Dorothy said. “They don’t care about weekends. They count every day.”
The construction will not change the routine for Heritage Corridor passengers until the city is ready to open the tunnels. At that point, commuters will use the tunnels to get to the new platform.
The Heritage Corridor platforms and train station are part of the Gateway Center transportation complex that the city is building downtown on the other side of the tracks from the old Union Station, which no longer is used as a train depot.
The project includes the new platform for the Rock Island Metra line, which already is in use.
The city also hopes to build a bus station, which originally was part of the plans for the $51 million project but was put on hold because of cost overruns.