By Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times
January 20, 2022
JOLIET, IL — Gov. J. B. Pritzker announced Thursday the next phase of construction on the new Houbolt Road bridge and interchange which is part of Pritzker’s $1.2 billion commitment to improve and modernize Interstate 80 through the bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital program.
“The next phase of I-80’s modernization begins today at Houbolt Road, giving new life to one the interstate’s most critical interchanges and a key access point for Joliet. Our state investment of $32 million right here in Joliet will help widen Houbolt Road and reconfigure its interchange into a high-capacity, diverging-diamond design. These improvements are making it safer and more efficient for truck drivers, but also for the tens of thousands of commuters and families who drive this interstate as they navigate their daily lives.” Pritzker said in a statement.
The Illinois Department of Transportation, City of Joliet, and CenterPoint Properties have partnered in a $33.5 million project to widen Houbolt Road and reconfigure its interchange with I-80. It has been reported that the State of Illinois will provide $32 million in capital funding for the project.
Illinois and partnering municipalities have leveraged a CenterPoint investment of up to $170 million to build a new tolled bridge on Houbolt Road over the Des Plaines River. The new bridge will connect I-80 and CenterPoint’s intermodal facilities. The CenterPoint facility provides thousands of jobs and $75 billion in freight activity annually, including 65 million bushels of agricultural products exported each year. The project is estimated to be completed by 2023.
“Under Gov. Pritzker, IDOT is leveraging public resources to advance projects across all modes throughout the state in new and exciting way. The Houbolt Road improvements are going to bring much-needed relief to I-80 while delivering a crucial piece of the governor’s larger vision to remake one of the country’s major interstate corridors.” said Omer Osman, Illinois Transportation Secretary.
It is hoped that improving access to CenterPoint’s intermodal facilities via Houbolt Road will reduce congestion on I-80 and reduce traffic near the entrances to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie along Illinois 53.
“I’m happy to see the progress being made on the construction of the Houbolt Road Bridge. We know, moving forward, the critical role this will play as development continues around the two intermodal ports in our region. The public-private partnership we have forged is a model for major capital improvements moving forward. Thank you, Governor Pritzker and our state officials, for your commitment to Joliet.” commented Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk.
According to a press release, Rebuild Illinois, passed in 2019, will invest $33.2 billion to rebuild Illinois’ aging transportation system and promote economic improvement. Pritzker also claims the infrastructure project is not only the largest in Illinois history, but the first to focus on all modes of transportation.
Frank Conklin, Illinois Political Columnist for The Chicago Times. Views and comments expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Chicago Times.