I grew up in Will County, Bolingbrook in particular, so I have seen an amazing amount of changes to our roads. I remember back in the 70’s when my Dad would talk about the new bridge being built into Lockport from Route 53. That new bridge was to cost a million dollars. It seemed like a lot of money in 1970, but it was being built for safety and speed. Prior to the new bridge we lived in Justice and one Sunday morning when I was about 5 years old, the brakes on our car went out as we exited the old bridge. We were heading to church in Joliet on a nice sunny day in Dad’s old station wagon, and as we were coming over the old bridge and down the hill onto Renwick and our brakes went out. We were lucky, Dad didn’t panic and he guided us into the median where we came to a stop. No church that Sunday, and other than a big fright to my Dad, maybe from the towing bill, all was fine. Maintaining our roads are akin to maintaining a car, its important.
ReBuild Illinois is not free. It will be paid for by taxes, no 2 ways about it, however critical infrastructure improvements are sorely needed now. We kind of hit the jackpot here in Will County with this capital bill. The 6 year $45 billion program includes 33.2 billion for roads and transit and 11.6 billion for schools, parks and government buildings. We here in Will County, thanks to local elected officials, are big beneficiaries of these funds. There are 102 Counties in Illinois and we are finally getting our share of the pie.
- $848.3 million for the reconstruction of 16 miles of Interstate 80 from Ridge Road in Minooka to Route 30 in New Lenox. It includes the replacement of the Des Plaines River bridges, identified by the Illinois Department of transportation as being in critical condition and in need of replacement. It also will include corridor-wide improvements, mainline bridge improvements, major interchange improvements at interstate 55, Center Street and Chicago street/Route 53, and minor interchange modifications at Larkin Ave, Richards Street and Briggs Street.
- $55 million for a new Illinois State Police facility that will combine the District 5 headquarters and crime lab, both in Will County. The location for this project has not been identified.
- $31.7 million to Governor’s State University expansion of academic building E and other capital improvements.
- 19.8 million to Joliet Junior College for the completion of the construction renovation and build out of the Downtown Joliet City Center Campus (where you can get a gourmet meal for cheap during fall and spring at either lunch or Friday night dinner).
- A $6 million grant to the Lewis University Airport to construct a long needed air traffic control tower to enhance safety and aid recruitment of additional corporate aviation activity to the airfield.
- $5.1 million to Will County for costs associated with implementation of the next phase of the Hickory/Spring Creeks flood control project in cooperation with the city of Joliet.
- $2.5 million in funding to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for nonfederal cost -sharing participation with the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers Asian Carp barrier project near the Brandon Road Lock and Dam site on the DesPlaines River.
- A $3 million grant to the village of Romeoville for the Pinnacle Drive extension to Renwick Road.
- A $1 million grant to Will County for costs associated with the demolition of the old court house.
These are just the large ticket projects the ReBuild Illinois program will fund in Will County. Another $5.5 million will be granted to Will County and many of our municipalities for a variety of roadwork, water and sewer system upgrades, parks and recreation facilities, municipal building improvements, and more. Some Will County social service agencies also will receive funding, funding that was sorely needed due to the cutbacks under the previous administration.
The grant amounts are all for upgrading or expanding the agency’s facilities:
- Stepping Stones Treatment Center -$1 million
- Child Advocacy Center – $725,000
- Daybreak Shelter for the homeless – $560,000
- Womens’ Recovery Home – $300,000 (currently there are none in Will County)
- G.W. Buck Boys & Girls Club of Joliet – $250,000
- Spanish Community Center – $200,000
- Trinity Services – $75,000
- Cornerstone – $50,000
- National Hook-up for Black Women – $30,000
All of this adds up to $927.2 million of new money coming into Will County for needed project that had no source of funding before. This does not include additional capital projects such as $162 million for a new interchange on I-57 and millions of dollars from the doubling of the gas tax that the county and our local communities will be receiving for local road projects. Altogether, Will County’s take will be more than $1 billion. These dollars that will likely be spent in our communities by the workers and engineers etc that will be building up Will County.