JOLIET – The city now expects construction on the Houbolt Road bridge to begin in late 2018.
Public Works Director James Trizna suggested the potential timeline at a community meeting this week.
No firm date has ever been given for the start of the $190 million project, which involves CenterPoint Properties building a toll bridge over the Des Plaines River, to connect with a new Houbolt Road interchange to be built at Interstate 80.
But Gov. Bruce Rauner initially said construction would be sometime this year when he announced the project in July 2016. Rauner said then the bridge would open by early 2019.
That start date was later estimated at early 2018 by former Joliet City Manager Jim Hock.
The project sought by local officials for years is aimed at moving trucks from CenterPoint Intermodal Center-Joliet directly onto I-80 and off of local roads and highways.
Trizna said Monday that Joliet officials now are looking at a possible fall 2018 start of construction for the bridge with intersection work to follow soon after.
“Our goal is to have that under contract this time next year if everything goes well,” Trizna told an audience gathered for an informational program on improvements slated for the city’s garbage service.
City officials at the end of the program discussed projects in the works in Joliet, and Trizna reviewed the future Houbolt Road project.
Trizna noted that an intergovernmental agreement does not allow the city to seek bids for future Houbolt Road improvements and the new interchange until CenterPoint Properties has started work on the bridge.
“The developer [CenterPoint] keeps telling us that they almost have their financing in order and they could be under construction this time next year,” Trizna said.
A spokeswoman for CenterPoint was unable to respond immediately as to whether the company planned have the bridge under construction by fall 2018.
The bridge, estimated to cost between $150 million and $170 million, is the biggest part of the project.
The two other parts of the project include the widening of Houbolt Road and the creation of a divergent diamond interchange at I-80 to accommodate the increased number of trucks expected to be using the route.
Houbolt Road would be expanded to five lanes, including a center turn lane, Trizna said.
The state is paying for the $21 million cost of road and interchange improvements, although Joliet could be responsible if those costs exceed the estimate.