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Local News

State funding will speed up downtown and Far West side road projects

Construction crews in April began work on the Chicago Street connection project.
Construction crews in April began work on the Chicago Street connection project.

The city expects to speed up road projects downtown and on the far West Side with more than $9.8 million in Rebuild Illinois funds.

The Public Works Department has identified seven projects for the local money coming out of the Rebuild Illinois program, which is also being used to fund interstate and state highway projects.

Two outlined last week are projects that should be sped up with additional funding: Chicago Street improvements downtown and Theodore Street improvements on the far West Side.

The city is just weeks away from completion of the Chicago Street project that opens up a direct route from downtown to Interstate 80, a change expected to bring more traffic into the heart of downtown.

Long-term plans include street and sidewalk improvements to eliminate the serpentine design of the street and create more parallel parking for the businesses.

Public Works Director James Trizna said the Rebuild Illinois funds will make $3.2 million available for those Chicago Street improvements from Jefferson to Cass streets.

“We can’t use it for streetscape amenities, but we can use it for redoing the road, streetlights and sidewalks,” Trizna told the City Council Public Service Committee.

Trizna did not set a timetable for the individual projects, but said the state requires the Rebuild Illinois funds to be spent by 2025.

Another $3.4 million will be used for widening the road and adding traffic signals on Theodore Street from Route 59 to River Road. The project will include a center lane along the entire route to accommodate left-hand turns.

“There is no way for anyone to get out of the flow of traffic when making left turns,” Trizna said of the current situation.

The city has been planning the Theodore Street project since 2016.

Another far West Side project in the plan is the completion of Black Road from Ridge Road to County Line Road.

Also on the list of projects are additional improvements for a Houbolt Road project that will accommodate the new bridge to be built over the Des Plaines River and a new interchange at Interstate 80.

Joliet has wanted to include a new traffic signal at Mound Road, which the state had not authorized. The Rebuild Illinois money will provide $600,000 for the traffic signal and additional street lighting.

The plan also includes funds for reconstruction of Spring Creek bridges at Garnsey Avenue and Abe Street, and technological improvements for centralized control of the city’s traffic light system.

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