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Local News

Joliet looks to insulate itself from $12 million interchange bill

A billboard advertising Rock Run Crossing stands near the intersection of Interstate 55 and Interstate 80 on Friday, March 22, 2019, in Joliet, Ill.
A billboard advertising Rock Run Crossing stands near the intersection of Interstate 55 and Interstate 80 on Friday, March 22, 2019, in Joliet, Ill.

The Joliet City Council votes Tuesday on an agreement aimed at shifting responsibility to a private developer for a potential $12 million-plus bill for a future Interstate 55 interchange.

The improved interchange at I-55 and Route 59 would provide access to the Rock Run Crossings development that Cullinan Properties wants to build. The 265-acre project would bring new retail, restaurants, hotels, offices, housing and entertainment venues if built according to plan.

The improved interchange is on the state's highway improvement plan but with a proposed contribution from Joliet of $12.35 million.

The city will issue bonds for the $12.35 million, said Joliet Economic Development Specialist Derek Conley.

A special taxing district being set up for the site could pay off the bonds if Rock Run Crossings develops as planned, Conley said.

But the memorandum of understanding on the council agenda for Tuesday is designed to ensure that Cullinan or future property owners pay the city's $12.35 million share of the interchange project if the planned development does not generate enough tax revenue to pay the bill.

"The city wants to be protected in case nothing ever gets developed there," Conley said. "The memorandum of understanding basically protects the city from that."

Cullinan is the second developer planning such a project in the northeast corner of the crossroads intersection of I-55 and Interstate 80 since 2008. Both plans hinged on an improved interchange for better access to the site.

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