CN announces intermodal plan for Joliet yard
From Staff Reports January 17, 2013 11:40AM
CN railroad's plan to add intermodal facility to this part of the Joliet yard is seen on Thursday January 17, 2013. It is located off of Route 6, near the old Silver Cross Hospital. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 3:01PM
JOLIET — Canadian National Railway plans to build a terminal at its Joliet yard to move cargo between trucks and trains for customers bringing goods from Asia through Canadian ports on the Pacific coast.
The 30-acre facility would be similar in operation but smaller in scale than the CenterPoint Properties intermodal sites in Joliet and Elwood.
The project would lie partially in CN’s rail yard, along U.S. 6 on the East Side, but would also extend into land being acquired by the railroad, including property that was part of the old Silver Cross Hospital at the northwest corner of U.S. 6 and Draper Avenue.
CN estimates that 175 trucks a day would use the intermodal facility, which would employ 15 to 30 people, CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said.
Waldron said the railroad is acquiring several sites for the intermodal operation, which would have its entrance off of Draper Avenue.
Joliet plans to require road improvements on Draper Avenue to accommodate the truck traffic, but the property does not need zoning approval before CN can proceed, a city official said.
The railroad announced the plan Thursday. A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for Tuesday morning.
“The Joliet-Will County area of greater Chicago has one of the highest concentrations of distribution centers in the United States,” CN chief marketing officer Jean-Jacques Ruest said in a written statement announcing the project.
He said the new terminal will improve access to Asian markets through Canadian ports in Vancouver and Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
Joliet is home to the CenterPoint Intermodal Center-Joliet, which has a yard run by the Union Pacific Railroad. And Elwood has CenterPoint Intermodal Center-Elwood run by the BNSF Railway.
The two CenterPoint yards are much larger than the proposed CN center, and CN does not plan to build distribution centers on its site, said James Haller, Joliet’s director of community and economic development. He said the CenterPoint intermodal yards are surrounded by industrial parks with distribution centers.
CN expects to provide daily service to the West Coast starting in June. Waldron said the types of jobs that would be added at the intermodal center include maintenance, lift operators and mechanics. CN currently employs nearly 160 people at the freight yard.
Mayor Thomas Giarrante said the city wants to direct the truck traffic to the east toward Interstate 355 rather than having it move west toward residential and retail areas of the city.
“We don’t want those trucks coming downtown,” Giarrante said, adding that he welcomes CN’s expansion. “It’s progress. It’s jobs. That’s what we’re looking for.”