JOLIET – September 21, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn, joined by Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider and other state and local officials, broke ground today on a new multimodal transportation center in downtown Joliet. As part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to building a 21st century infrastructure in Illinois, the project begins a complete overhaul of a key stop on the Chicago-to-St. Louis high-speed rail line. The $42 million project, which includes a $32 million commitment from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, will create almost 400 construction jobs, improve safety for travelers and serve as a catalyst for future transit-oriented development in Joliet’s historic City Center.
“This new transportation station will create jobs and economic development in Joliet while providing an alternative to driving and high gas prices,” Governor Quinn said. “Once this project is completed, we’ll have better transportation in Joliet and safer, more reliable and convenient service for travelers.”
Joliet’s 100-year-old Union Station, which serves almost 800,000 riders per year on Amtrak and on Metra’s Heritage Corridor and Rock Island District lines, poses an issue by requiring passengers to cross working freight railroad tracks in order to board their trains. The new station will ensure safety and eliminate the problem by separating passenger from freight rail traffic and relocating the platform and waiting areas.
The first phase of the project, starting today, is the construction of a 400-space parking lot southwest of the new station. Other aspects include pedestrian tunnels linking to Pace and other forms of bus service and ground transportation. Union Station will be preserved and incorporated into the design of the new station campus.
“This project will make life easier and safer for tens of thousands of Metra commuters and Amtrak riders each day, but it also will make Joliet an important regional center for high-speed rail,” said Secretary Schneider. “I am also excited that this project ties together the multiple modes of transportation. The new Joliet transportation center is exactly the kind of project we envision to meet the state’s future transportation needs.”
The transportation center is anticipated to be complete by 2015. In addition to the $32 million from Illinois Jobs Now!, the project includes $7.5 million from the city of Joliet and $2.2 million from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The Regional Transportation Authority, Pace, Metra, Amtrak, Will County and the Union Pacific Railroad also served as key partners.
“A project of this magnitude is what every mayor dreams of. It will bring hundreds of jobs to jump-start our ongoing economic development efforts in downtown Joliet,” said Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante. “We are extremely appreciative of Governor Quinn's efforts to help us secure the $32 million Illinois Jobs Now! grant that made this project possible.”
Under Governor Quinn, Illinois has emerged as a national leader in the expansion of passenger rail. In the last complete fiscal year, 1.8 million passengers rode Amtrak’s four state-supported routes in Illinois, almost double the ridership of six years ago.
This fall, with the start of 110-mph service between Dwight and Pontiac, Illinois will become the second state outside of the East Coast to offer high-speed rail service. Ongoing improvements are expected to permit 110 mph trains to run between Dwight and Alton by 2015. The Illinois Department of Transportation also is overseeing more than $280 million in projects to reintroduce Amtrak service on the Chicago-Rockford-Dubuque and Chicago-Moline lines. Earlier this month, the initial environmental studies began on implementing high-speed service between Chicago and Detroit, a project made possible by the governor’s support of the $133 million Englewood Flyover on Chicago’s Southwest Side.