Details of the Houbolt Road interchange and road-widening project were spelled out at an open house Wednesday, including the targeted completion date of July 2023.
Those who came to the meeting sought information ranging from the impact of the new interchange on students commuting to Joliet Junior College to what could be done at to alter plans to widen the road to only 10 feet from the wall of one house along its path.
“I was hoping it didn’t come to this,” said Harry Stanford, who rents the house to tenants who may see semitrailers rumbling 10 feet away from a back room window when the project is completed.
The interchange and road-widening project is linked to the Houbolt Road bridge now being built over the Des Plaines River to create a new route for trucks between the CenterPoint Intermodal Center and Interstate 80.
The bridge is being built by a private partnership that includes CenterPoint Properties.
The widening of Hollywood Road – which becomes Houbolt Road north of Interstate 80 – from Route 6, where the bridge will land, to the interchange and reconstruction of the interchange is a state-funded project overseen by the city of Joliet.
Key elements of the project include:
• A November target date for completion of the Route 6 intersection, which will have seven lanes including turn lanes at the southbound lanes of the interchange, so the intersection will be ready when the bridge opens.
• An early 2023 target date for opening of the Houbolt Road bridge, when trucks likely will use Route 6 to get to Interstate 55 while construction continues on Hollywood/Houbolt Road.
• A one- to two-week period in the coming months when Hollywood Road will be closed between Mound Road and Route 6 as a CSX railroad crossing is improved for the future four-lane road.
• The widening of Hollywood Road from its current two lanes to four lanes between Route 6 and the I-80 interchange to accommodate expected semitrailer traffic that will come with the new bridge.
• The creation of a diverging diamond interchange at I-80 to ease traffic flow at the Houbolt Road interchange when the project is completed in July 2023.
Joliet City Traffic Engineer Russ Lubash discussed the value of the diverging diamond interchange, which creates lanes allowing turning traffic to merge rather than cross lanes in the process of changing directions.
“Where these work is at interchanges that have higher volumes of turning movements than through movements,” Lubash said. “The new bridge is going to bring a lot more traffic to Houbolt Road, and the majority of that traffic will be going to I-80.”
The new interchange should work out well for Joliet Junior College commuters, said Patrick Van Duyne, JJC senior director of facilities.
“We are always interested in how these types of projects so close to our campus will affect our students,” said Van Duyne, who planned to report back to his colleagues on what he learned at the meeting.
Joliet City Council member Joe Clement asked city staff to organize the meeting, expecting there would be people wanting more information about the project.
“It’s a big project,” Clement said. “I think it impacts everybody who is in the area, all the businesses and residents along Route 6, Joliet Junior College and the people and businesses up and down Houbolt.”