On Tuesday, July 20, 2021, government and corporate officials gathered a short walk from the Des Plaines River for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Houbolt Road Extension Project, a public-private partnership bringing a host of infrastructure improvements to Joliet, IL.
The privately financed project by Houbolt Road Extension JV, LLC, a joint venture between United Bridge Partners and CenterPoint Properties, involves constructing a new 1.5-mile-long highway extension – including a 0.4-mile bridge over the Des Plaines River – to connect Interstate 80 with theCenterPoint Intermodal Center and its Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway intermodal facilities. The HRE-JV will also operate and maintain the bridge while collecting bridge tolls under a 99-year lease agreement with the City of Joliet.
In addition to the four-lane Houbolt Road extension and bridge, the project will deliver the following improvements:
– Turning and merging lanes from Houbolt Road to Schweitzer Road and US Route 6.
– A signalized intersection at Vetter and Schweitzer Roads.
– Grading for a dedicated pedestrian/bicycle path parallel to the new roadway on Houbolt Road.
As many as 20,000 trucks pass through the CenterPoint Intermodal Center daily. Project leaders say constructing the third entrance to the park will significantly reduce truck traffic on local roads and significantly slash the CIC’s carbon footprint.
“With the growth of the Union Pacific intermodal, the BNSF intermodal and the business park, a need for a new means of ingress and egress to this park was vital,” said Michael Murphy, CenterPoint Properties’ chief development officer. “United Bridge Partners intends to be part of this community for a very, very long time. We’re thrilled to be here and serve you and support you,” said Doug Witt, president and chief executive officer of United Bridge Partners.
The publicly funded portion of the project will consist of a $32 million investment by the State of Illinois and the City of Joliet to construct a new diverging diamond interchange at I-80 and Houbolt Road and reconstruct Houbolt Road from I-80 to US Route 6.
Murphy highlighted the “full team effort” of the many public and private organizations and union partners working on the project, particularly the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, a project investor with United Bridge Partners and CenterPoint. He also credited Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk for having the “vision” to help get the project off the ground many years after its idea was hatched.
“It’s a great step forward. I think the biggest step that’s been taken by anybody since the intermodals came to our area,” said O’Dekirk, who also thanked Elwood Mayor Doug Jenco and Channahon Mayor Missey Moorman Schumacher in attendance. “What we’re doing here in Joliet is going to have a regional effect. It’s important that Joliet and other cities in Will County all partner together,” O’Dekirk added. “We have become the playbook for the entire state of Illinois. When things are getting done, they look to us here in Will County,” said Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.
Illinois Department of Transportation Region 1 Engineer Jose Rios said revamping the I-80 interchange for the Houbolt Road Extension Project is one of a multitude of infrastructure improvements in Governor JB Pritzker’s $33.2 billion Rebuild Illinois plan to upgrade infrastructure across all modes of transportation in the state.
“This is an exciting time for the region because the Houbolt Bridge Project will coincide with the Governor’s vision to reconstruct I-80, a key travel and freight corridor for the entire country,” stated Rios.
Construction on the project kicked off in March and is on track to be completed in Spring 2023. For more information and project updates, visit www.houboltroadextension.com.