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Local News

$20 million federal grant announced for Joliet interchange

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.

Joliet will get a $20 million grant to help fund the future Interstate 55 interchange for the Rock Run Crossings project.

The interchange is an essential part of Cullinan Properties' plan to build a regional attraction with stores, restaurants, hotels, offices, residences and entertainment venues at the crossing of I-55 and Interstate 80.

State officials have previously announced that they intend to build the improved interchange at Route 59, but the federal grant will help assure funding for what has been estimated as an $87.4 million project.

Mayor Bob O'Dekirk described the grant as "awesome news for Joliet."

"I think we all agree that the interchange is key," O'Dekirk said. "It was not going to be developed without it."

The 265-acre site in the northeast corner of I-55 and I-80 has been eyed for development for years, but there has not been access from the highway.

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-West Chicago, on Tuesday announced the grant for the project, which is in the 14th District that she represents.

The grant will come from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, program, according to a news release issued by Underwood.

"For too long, the unique infrastructure needs of rural and suburban communities in northern Illinois have been overlooked," Underwood said in the news release. "That's why, since day one, advocating for more BUILD funding was one of my highest priorities."

It was not immediately clear how the money would be used on the project.

The Joliet City Council in August approved an agreement with Cullinan to help finance the interchange with a $12.4 million bond, which would be issued by the city but paid by Cullinan through revenue generated by land development.

That money would be added to $75 million to be spent by the state on the interchange project.

Access to the site, however, also will require development of more roads, and the interchange project is part of a wider plan for road improvements in Joliet and Shorewood.

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