Damage from truck traffic leads to road closure
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com November 27, 2012 5:10PM
The entrance to Walter Strawn Drive off of Route 53 is marked with road closed signs in Elwood, IL on Tuesday November 27, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 29, 2012 6:18AM
Walter Strawn Drive is closed between the busy Elwood and Joliet shipping intermodal centers because overweight trucks have taken their toll, local officials said Tuesday.
It’s the second time the Elwood road has been closed since August, and Will County officials are worried overweight trucks now will start using their roads as an alternative.
“The reason it’s closed is because of the beating it took,” Will County Engineer Bruce Gould said.
The road closure started on Black Friday and it’s supposed to last a week as a railroad crossing is repaired, Elwood Police Chief Fred Hayes said.
The railroad crossing part of the road is controlled by Centerpoint Properties, which developed the intermodals, where goods are transferred between trains and trucks for delivery to regional businesses.
“Centerpoint has hired a contractor to improve or reconstruct the crossing,” Hayes said. “It’s received a lot of deterioration from heavy truck traffic.”
The rest of Walter Strawn Drive is in Elwood’s jurisdiction, but Gould is worried overweight trucks will start using county roads.
“It’s a problem if any overweight trucks run on Manhattan Road because it’s not posted for overweight trucks,” Gould said.
The county only allows overweight grain trucks on its roads, not trucks stuffed with “TVs, fitness equipment and toilets — whatever,” Gould said.
Elwood issues overweight permits of up to 100,000 pounds on Walter Strawn Drive. But Will County restricts trucks on Manhattan Road to 30,000 pounds from Route 53 to Baseline Road and 80,000 pounds from Baseline to Interstate 55.
“We don’t honor those except for grain containers sealed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” Gould said of the overweight permits.
Three other roads — Schweitzer, Laraway and Millsdale, all are controlled by the city of Joliet, Gould said.
“If they want to run that way and the city of Joliet is going to honor those overweight permits, that’s their decision,” Gould said.
Joliet City Manager Tom Thanas said the city is allowing trucks up to 90,000 pounds to detour onto Laraway Road during the time that Walter Strawn Drive is closed for repairs. The normal weight limit on Lawaway Road is 80,000 pounds, but the road was built to handle trucks of up to 10,000 pounds more, Thanas said.
Joliet Police Chief Mike Trafton said extra patrols have been sent to Laraway to make sure trucks aren’t over the 90,000-pound limit and they’re not speeding.