JOLIET – The new train station is scheduled to open Wednesday.
The downtown station will open at 4:30 a.m. with city officials and staff there serving coffee and doughnuts.
“It’s the end of a very long marathon,” said Lisa Dorothy, the city’s project manager for the train station.
The station is part of a Gateway Center transportation complex that was launched in 2010, with an announcement by then-Gov. Pat Quinn of a $30 million state grant that provided the primary funding for the project.
New commuter platforms for Metra’s Rock Island and Heritage Corridor lines have opened.
But Metra and Amtrak riders have not had a train station since September 2014, when Union Station was closed to commuters as boarding facilities were moved to the other side of the tracks.
City staff are providing free coffee and doughnuts from 4:30 to 11 a.m. to commuters “as a thank you for their patience,” City Clerk Christa Desiderio said.
Metra and Amtrak ticket offices, which have been operating out of outdoor trailers during construction, will be moved inside the station Wednesday.
The station will include a first-floor waiting area for Heritage Corridor commuters and a second-floor waiting area for Rock Island commuters. A walkway bridge to the Rock Island platform should be open Wednesday, Dorothy said.
A tunnel in the station leading to the Heritage Corridor platform opened in February. But the remainder of the station remained blocked off until interior work was completed.
The opening of the train station is not the end of the line for Gateway Center.
Once the construction trailer is moved out of the parking lot across from the train station, that parking area will be completed for 57 spaces.
Also, a bus station that was to be part of Gateway Center has never been built because money ran out. City officials have said they will continue to pursue state or federal grant money that could fund a bus station someday.
Originally estimated at $42 million, Gateway Center has cost $51 million to build so far.
In addition to the new train station and commuter platforms, the project included a realignment of freight railroad tracks running through downtown that has been described as the most complex part of the undertaking.