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Local News

Construction projects, social service agencies to get millions in funding

Several projects in Will County are set to receive funding through the state capital bill passed during the last legislative session in Springfield.

Besides needed funds for road construction, local agencies received money for construction projects.

“We have a lot of money coming back to Will County,” state Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, said at a recent town hall meeting. “That is something to be very, very thankful for.”

The Interstate 80 funding has been highly publicized and is one of the biggest projects in the capital bill.

The $848 million project includes replacement of the Des Plaines River bridges, new interchanges at Chicago and Center streets, and third lanes in selected merger areas but not throughout the project area.

The project covers a 16-mile stretch between Route 30 in New Lenox and Ridge Road in Minooka.

A timetable for construction is yet to be set but should be out later this year when the Illinois Department of Transportation completes its next six-year plan.

Acting Transportation Secretary Omer Osman was in Joliet on June 20 and told an audience at a luncheon for the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry that IDOT staff was going through the 362-page Rebuild Illinois infrastructure bill and prioritizing projects.

The bill includes long-stalled funding for the downtown campus building that Joliet Junior College opened in January 2017.

JJC had been recommended for
$25 million in a state grant program since 2013 and embarked on the downtown project with the understanding that the money would be there to assist in total construction costs. When it did not come, JJC continued with construction while waiting for future reimbursement from the state.

The state provided $10 million in 2017.

Now, JJC is getting $19.8 million from Rebuild Illinois, which would bring the total state funding for the project to $29.8 million, almost $5 million more than was originally granted.

A JJC spokeswoman said the difference represents interest since funding was delayed.

The Lewis University Airport is set to get $6 million for a much-needed air traffic control tower, something federal, state and local officials have been working on for years.

Romeoville Mayor John Noak said this would help with safety at the airport and also serve the greater regional economy, as several corporations with ties to Will County use the airport for special events in the area.

The Illinois State Police will get
$55 million to go toward planning for a new combined facility and other capital improvements in Will County.

Connor said state police headquarters and forensic labs have been in need of renovations and that the multiple buildings used for various purposes should be combined for better efficiency. He worked closely with the state police during his time in the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office before he joined the state legislature.

“With all these facilities falling apart, what my push is going to be is to take that money and build basically a campus where we have a bureau of identification, a forensics lab, DNA testing, ballistics testing, finger print testing ... those all should be in the same building,” Connor said at the town hall.

Will County will receive $1 million for the demolition of the old courthouse once construction of the new courthouse is completed.

Several local social service agencies, which struggled during the state’s budget crisis, also are set to receive money.

Catholic Charities Daybreak Center went to the city of Joliet in March seeking money to help plug a $500,000 budget gap at the homeless shelter created by cutbacks in federal funding.

Daybreak gets $560,000 from the capital bill.

Stepping Stones Treatment Center in Joliet will receive $500,000 for improvements to its 60-year-old recovery home where dozens of patients with addictions and mental disorders are provided housing.

Cornerstone Services in Joliet, which serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is set to receive $50,000 for needed upgrades and improvements to its existing facilities.

The Spanish Community Center and the Will County Child Advocacy Center also will receive funds.

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