NEW TOLL BRIDGE, ROAD TO CONNECT I-80, CENTERPOINT INTERMODAL HUB IN WILL COUNTY
Rauner: Public-private project will ease truck traffic, keep Illinois competitive
If you travel Interstate 80 near Joliet regularly, you’re probably familiar with the heavy truck traffic that chokes the highway at the Houbolt Road interchange.
The growth of the 6,500-acre CenterPoint Intermodal Center southeast of the intersection of Interstates 55 and 80 in Will County since its opening in 2002 has brought an influx of truck traffic that flows from the highways onto roads not equipped for such heavy volume and loads.
A major public-private road project announced Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner and local officials will bring relief to residents along those roads while enhancing CenterPoint’s status at the nation’s largest inland port.
The project, estimated to cost $170-$190 million, will create a new toll road from I-80 along Houbolt Road, including a bridge across the Des Plaines River, for traffic to and from the shipping facilities. Rauner said work should begin next year with the new route in use as early as 2018.
Rauner said the plan involves “leveraging” $21 million in state funds to encourage a $170 million private investment from CenterPoint.
“We’ve worked for the last 18 months in our administration to try to leverage taxpayer money to get more private money to grow our economy. Get the maximum benefit, the maximum impact for our taxpayer dollars,” Rauner said Monday at the facility.
The state’s investment will cover work on the Houbolt Road interchange at I-80 and CenterPoint will cover construction of a new, four-lane road connecting the highway to the intermodal center. About 11,000 vehicles a day, including 6,600 trucks, will use the new route when it opens, said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. Those are numbers are expected to nearly triple by 2040.
“Any of you that live and work in Will County will understand how welcome this is to try to improve the truck traffic along your roads, along our state highways and give more direct access out of your communities and directly into the intermodal facilities,” Blankenhorn said.
The project also will ease traffic around the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, which are located adjacent to the intermodal facilities, Blankenhorn said.
“We’re going to build a road that will make our other roads safer because at the end of the day… safety on our roads is one of the most important parts of this project,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh.