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Local News

Costs rising on Houbolt Road project

The estimated cost of a new Interstate 80 interchange and wider Houbolt Road has gone from $21 million to $32 million since July 2016 when former state Transportation Secretary Randall Blankenhorn joined Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Bob O'Dekirk in Joliet to announce the project.
The estimated cost of a new Interstate 80 interchange and wider Houbolt Road has gone from $21 million to $32 million since July 2016 when former state Transportation Secretary Randall Blankenhorn joined Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Bob O'Dekirk in Joliet to announce the project.

The Houbolt Road road-and-bridge project is getting more expensive by $11 million, but it’s not costing Joliet any money.

The City Council votes next week on a change in the Joliet intergovernmental agreement with the state of Illinois that put a $21 million price tag on construction and engineering costs for a new Interstate 80 interchange and widened Houbolt Road.

The revised agreement estimates the cost at $32 million.

The entire cost of the project was estimated at between $171 million and $191 million when former Gov. Bruce Rauner announced it in July 2016. Most of the cost in the public-private project is the building of the bridge over the Des Plaines River, which is to be done by CenterPoint Properties.

Depending on when CenterPoint gets going, it may be three years from announcement to groundbreaking.

Joliet Public Works Director James Trizna said bids for the road-and-interchange work won’t go out until late summer.

He said planning has been slowed down several months by a value engineering review, which put a second set of eyes on the engineer’s cost estimates to see if they could be lowered.

“There weren’t many ways to save money,” Trizna said.

The state has agreed to cover the increased project costs, he said.

CenterPoint has previously estimated the start date for bridge construction at spring 2019.

“We’ll hear more next week,” Trizna said. “We have a meeting [with CenterPoint] next Tuesday.”

When Rauner announced the project, he estimated construction would start in 2017 and the bridge would open by early 2019.

Toilet rebate?

The Water Conservation Committee wants Joliet to offer rebates to residents who install toilets that conserve water.

The committee is part of the Environmental Commission created to help Joliet find an alternative source of water. Committee Chairwoman Maria Anna Rafac said the committee wants to offer incentives for conservation while Joliet still draws water from an aquifer that is expected to begin running dry by 2030.

Rafac said the committee may formalize the toilet rebate proposal at its next meeting on Feb. 27.

Water main breaks

Joliet lost some water from water main breaks this week, but it could have been worse.

Utilities Director Allison Swisher said the city had two breaks on Wednesday and four more on Thursday.

• Bob Okon is a longtime Herald-News reporter. He can be reached at bokon@shawmedia.com or 815-280-4121.

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