‘Key component’ of transportation center put on hold
By Bob Okon email@example.com April 1, 2013 6:08PM
Updated: May 4, 2013 6:16AM
A five-story parking deck that would add convenience and a little flash to Joliet’s downtown transportation center has been put off for a year.
City Manager Thomas Thanas told the city council Monday that he wanted to hold off on a $10 million bond issue to finance the parking garage until the future of Joliet gambling taxes becomes more clear.
“We are still fully committed to building this parking garage,” Thanas told the council at a Monday workshop meeting. “We think it’s a key component of the downtown transportation center. Our hope was to do it this year. We now plan to do it next year.”
The plan is for the parking garage to pay for itself and even generate a profit.
But Thanas said that he did not think the city should commit to the project with the future of gambling tax revenue in doubt. The city has forecast a potential $5 million yearly drop in gambling taxes if the state approves a gambling expansion plan that would include a casino in the south suburbs and slot machines at horse race tracks.
Even if the expansion goes through, the city would move forward with the parking deck, Thanas said after the meeting. But, he added, “Before I ask the city council to commit itself to any bond isses, I think we need to know where we stand.”
Without the parking deck, the city will need to build an elevator to take commuters up to the new Rock Island Metra platform that is part of the transportation center. The deck was supposed to include two high-speed elevators.
The parking deck also is designed to include a light tower that would be noticeable from Interstate 80, one of the bright design features to the transportation center. It also was to include two high-speed elevators that would take commuters to the Rock Island Metra platform. Without the parking deck, the city plans to build a stand-alone elevator to do the job.
The council voted Tuesday to approve an extra $307,000 in fees for Knight Engineering & Architects for additional design work that includes the elevator.
While the 400 spaces that would come with the deck will likely be stalled, the city Metra commuters will get 400 other new spaces when a new parking lot opens at 55 E. Marion St.
The lot should open in two to three months, Thanas told the council.
The council will vote Tuesday on a $258,000 bid from Revcon Technology Group to equip the lot with gates, payment machines and a camera surveillance system. Thanas said the surveillance system will provide 100 percent coverage of the lot, much better camera coverage than what the city has now at its commuter lots.