KANKAKEE — Progress is underway on the long-awaited Kankakee Metro Centre bus transfer station, which is now expected to be completed and ready for use by mid to late spring 2022.
Ken Munjoy, chief operating officer for the River Valley Metro Mass Transit District, said he anticipates the downtown Kankakee complex — which is under construction on East Chestnut Street between the 300 blocks of North Schuyler and North Dearborn avenues — will be finished later this year, barring bad weather or material shipment delays.
“It’s actually progressing pretty well,” Munjoy said. “Most of the concrete work is done. Brickwork is being done as we speak.”
When the project was announced, it was expected to cost about $4 million, with $1.6 million coming from the state of Illinois and another $2.4 million from the federal government.
The federal CARES Act meant that all of the funding came through, and two planned phases of construction were reduced down to one.
Apex Construction Group, the general contractor for the project, got started in the summer of 2021. The work was initially planned to wrap up later that same year; however, some unforeseen issues were found at the building site, Munjoy said.
“That site had been used for many different things over the decades, and some of those things it had been used for were not in the records any place,” Munjoy said. “So, when they started excavating there for our structure, they started running into things like, there were basements down there underground that nobody knew about.”
Having to remove concrete from underground pushed their work into the fall, and thus made finishing by the end of 2021 impossible, he said.
“For it to be done in 2021, everything had to go right,” Munjoy said. “When you are building on an old site like that, it’s not like building on a fresh site.”
Some of the steel needed to complete the walls of a small structure within the complex is not yet available, which is why material shipping might cause more problems with the timeline.
“It’s just a matter of getting it, and I don’t know how long it will take,” Munjoy said. He added that he doesn’t expect this will cause “any kind of major delay.”
The station will feature overhang coverage to protect riders from the elements as well as heated walkways leading from the waiting area out to the buses.
The heating will reduce the risk of snow and ice accumulating on walkways.
“We’re taking everything into account that we can to provide for the comfort and safety of our riders,” Munjoy said.
While these features need to be finished, Munjoy noted that the site is starting to take shape.
“It’s getting down to where you can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
He said it is exciting to see that particular piece of property in Kankakee being developed, as it has been vacant for quite some time. He said a goal of the project is to keep consistent with design qualities that have been added to the area in recent years, such as lighting.
He also noted that a new transfer center in downtown Kankakee has been in the works for a long time, with the former managing director of River Valley Metro working on the idea since around the mid-2000s.
A number of sites have been proposed in the past, but for one reason or another, none of them worked.
“This one finally came together, and we are really happy because we’ve been serving that area as a bus transfer station for years, but we’ve had to do it in the street,” Munjoy said. “We want to be able to get those buses off the street — for better convenience for our riders and more safety.”