DUNNING — The emissions testing facility on Forest Preserve Drive in the heart of Dunning will close by Nov. 1, state officials announced Friday.
The closure is part of an effort by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to "streamline" the way the state monitors emissions from older cars and save taxpayers $8 million, officials said.
"The new contract reflects a more efficient, more accurate and less expensive test that will result in significant cost savings to the state," said Kim Biggs, a spokeswoman for the state agency.
However, the closure of the facility at 6959 W. Forest Preserve Drive will leave a gaping hole near Harlem Avenue and Irving Park Road on the city's northwestern tip.
Biggs said she had no information on what the state planned to do with the property.
The testing facility at 1850 W. Webster Ave. near Lincoln Park will also close as part of the new testing contract, Biggs said.
The closures — which also include facilities in Tinley Park and Elk Grove Village — will force all Chicago drivers from the North Side to travel to the testing facility near McCormick Boulevard and Touhy Avenue in Skokie.
However, "motorists will no long require appointments for inspection and repair facilities and most primary stations will included a second test position in each lane, which will increased throughput significantly," Biggs said.
State law requires a testing facility to be located no more than 12 miles from a registered Illinois vehicle, and that regulation will continue to be met, Biggs said.
The new test will be "much more efficient, more accurate and less expensive" than the tests required under the previous contract, Biggs said.
The Dunning testing facility is adjacent to the Dunning-Read Conservation Area and mostly vacant land that was once home to a mental hospital and long-forgotten cemetery, but is now the focus of city-, state- and federal-government-led redevelopment efforts.
South of the testing facility, work has resumed on a $70.5 million facility to house veterans suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and dementia.
In 2015, city officials extended the Dunning Tax Increment Financing district for another 12 years, which is expected to raise $60 million. The bulk of that money is expected to be used to build a new junior high school and high school on the former Dunning cemetery east of the testing facility.
A new school could relieve overcrowding at Taft High School in Norwood Park and area middle schools, supporters say.
Plans to build a $3 million artificial turf field east of the testing facility fell victim to the state budget crisis.
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