News - Joliet and Will County

Joliet could pay $2.8 million, become landlord of property to settle dispute over old bridge

City attorney says rental arrangement is “short-term”

JOLIET – William Zaffino and Mike Veugeler are on the wrong side of the bridge – the Old Richards Street bridge.

Joliet wants to vacate the bridge, which would leave Zaffino and Veugeler, who need to get across to operate their businesses, with an 87-year-old bridge that needs $2 million in maintenance, according to the city's estimate.

Except for the two business owners, no one else has property on their side of the bridge, which may have something to do with the city's argument that future maintenance of the bridge is not in the public interest.
But I-80 also is a big part of the dilemma.

The two business properties stand alone on the short stretch of what is called Old Richards Street, which was cut off at I-80 when the interstate was built.

Regular Richards Street is located just east of Old Richards Street and has access ramps to I-80. The westbound entrance ramp to I-80 is so close that the Illinois Department of Transportation has not allowed the creation of an alternative access road that would bypass the bridge and connect Old Richards Street directly to Richards Street. The proximity of that access road to the I-80 ramp would create a safety hazard, IDOT has said.
The Joliet City Council on Tuesday voted to abandon the Old Richard Street bridge that leads to two businesses and a vacant property.