JOLIET – The Illinois Department of Transportation expects construction of the Houbolt Road bridge to begin sometime this fall.
The $190 million project, which includes a new Interstate 80 interchange, could relieve truck congestion on Route 53 and local roads if it works as planned.
If construction does start with the current timetable, the bridge would open in 2020, IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell said Thursday.
The timetable lags behind Gov. Bruce Rauner’s original estimate that the bridge would open by early 2019. But Tridgell said it’s moving ahead at a good pace considering the magnitude of the project.
“For a project of this size, from the date it was announced to get to reality by this time is very quick,” Tridgell said. “This is a river bridge. There are environmental issues that have to be dealt with. There’s an intersection, too.”
The bridge is not a reality yet. But both state and city of Joliet officials have said they expect construction to start later this year.
Joliet Public Works Director James Trizna told residents at a community meeting in November that the city expected the project to start in fall 2018.
The start of construction, however, depends on CenterPoint Properties, which has not offered its own estimated construction date.
CenterPoint Properties will build the bridge, which would give trucks at its Joliet intermodal park a direct connection to I-80 and pass over the Des Plaines River.
The state will fund the interchange and widening of Houbolt Road south of I-80, a project overseen by Joliet.
An agreement setting the rules for the project requires that CenterPoint start building the bridge before Joliet seeks bids for the interchange and road widening.
The bridge is the biggest part of the project, estimated to cost between $150 million and $170 million.
Rauner, who came to Joliet in July 2016 to announce the private-public project, was in Joliet on Wednesday. In an interview with The Herald-News, Rauner called the Houbolt Road bridge “a great project” and said it is going well.
Tridgell said there are plans to have a public meeting on the Houbolt Road bridge project sometime in the spring.