As currently configured, Joliet Union Station has some problems: Metra controls UD tower, the interlocking for the crossing. Therefore, Metra trains get preference over freights, including those on BNSF's busy Transcon -- the former Santa Fe, or Union Pacific trains headed to their massive intermodal facility south of Joliet. It is not uncommon to see hot intermodal trains from both directions waiting for Metra-Rock Island trains to cross the BNSF and UP, or waiting for passengers on Metra-Heritage Corridor and Amtrak trains to load or disembark.
In 2009, the City of Joliet applied for a TIGER grant to create a regional multi-modal transportation center as part of a plan to help stimulate redevelopment in downtown Joliet. It would be a state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly facility serving intercity and commuter rail, intercity and local bus, taxi and paratransit.
The first grant proposal explained the station's current drawbacks and showcased the city's hopes for what a new station may bring. The 2009 design had several new buildings designed to blend in with the style of the original station. After this initial plan, further changes were made and a new grant document was created.
The plan included a futuristic parking garage and giant atrium. The historic Union Station building would still exist, but not as a passenger station. Passenger platforms would be moved to positions that do not interfere with traffic on the BNSF mainline.
In October 2010, Governor Pat Quinn announced that the State of Illinois would provide $32 million in funding for the Joliet Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center. (To see a video presentation on the proposal, click here.) As part of this plan, control of UD tower, one of the last manned interlocking towers in the Chicagoland area, will be given from Metra to the dispatchers for BNSF and Union Pacific.
In June 2012, further changes were made and a new presentation showed a further scaled down plan. The futuristic parking garage and giant atrium had been eliminated and the large glass canopies over the new platforms no longer appear.
page last modified December 5, 2012 by
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Portions of the above written by Bill Molony. Artists renderings provided by the City of Joliet.
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the City of Joliet, the Regional Transportation Authority, or the Blackhawk Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society,