Joliet train station now open

Brock A. Stein | 4/11/2018, 1:39 p.m. | Updated on 4/12/2018, 4:18 p.m.
While there are still a few more details to be completed before it is officially done, Joliet’s new downtown train ...
Joliet's Gateway train station opened to commuters on Wednesday with morning riders greeted with free coffee and doughnuts from city staff and public officials. Photo by Jayme Cain

While there are still a few more details to be completed before it is officially done, Joliet’s new downtown train station marked another milestone this week when the main terminal opened to commuters on Wednesday morning.

The $30 million project has had its ups and downs over the past few years with a construction start that was stalled by uncertain state funding and a lack of a state budget.

Earlier this year, the city opened the station’s new elevated platform for riders of the Metra Heritage Corridor and Amtrak lines.

City civil engineer Lisa Dorothy called the project “predominantly completed” with what she is calling the “soft opening” of the main terminal this week and that crews would now turn their attention to completing new parking lots at the site and a few other details before a projected final completion at the end of May.

“We have to open the building as part of the construction process,” said Dorothy who said that the next phase will include moving the temporary ticket trailer offices to make way for the new parking lot construction. That won’t happen until the weather warms up and the city can get a supply of asphalt to complete that phase she said.

“We have to wait for the asphalt paving plants to open,” said Dorothy.

So commuters who have become accustomed to buying their tickets from agents from the temporary trailers will now go inside the new building which will begin its regular hours of operation this week. Metra ticket windows will be open Monday through Friday from 4:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Amtrak tickets will be for sale during the week from 5:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with additional weekend hours running from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Riders on Wednesday were greeted by city staff and even Mayor Bob O’Dekirk stopped by to hand out coffee and doughnuts as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to commuters for their patience through all the phases of construction said Dorothy.

Once the train station is completed at the end of May, Dorothy said that the work is far from over with the city still looking for funding for the Pace Bus terminal portion of the station.

“We are actively pursuing the remaining funding required for the final phase of the transportation center,” she said.

There are also details to be worked out on what will be done with the former station’s Union Depot signal maintainer’s tower which was part of the original 1911 structure.

Dorothy said that the space has been preserved for possible use as an onsite historic museum with exhibits but the city will look at how to best utilize the space in the future.

Commuters using the new station will also have more entertainment options when they get back from a long day of work with the former Union Station terminal space now home to MyGrain Brewing and space for more commercial development.

Timeline of the Joliet Train Station:

• January 2010—grant funding announced for the Joliet Multi-Modal transportation station by then-governor Pat Quinn

• March 2011—Joliet receives the grant funding and moves ahead by hiring an architect

• 2012—ground breaking on phase 1 on Marion and Chicago St. begins

• 2013—Rock Island platform construction begins

• 2014—temporary platform opens

• Sept 26, 2014—the old Union Station is decommissioned and the new Rock Island platform and the temporary Heritage Corridor platforms open

• February 5, 2018--New Heritage platform opens

• Apr. 11—New train station building opens

• End of May 2018—projected completion of remaining projects for the train station portion of the project