Pact may lead to barge/rail terminal in Joliet
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org September 22, 2013 10:49PM
Updated: October 24, 2013 6:12AM
JOLIET — The Will County Board has moved to help pave the way for a bulk barge/rail terminal along the Des Plaines River on land that Centerpoint Properties owns near its intermodal center.
The board’s approval Thursday of an intergovernmental agreement with Joliet will allow 138 acres near Patterson and Laraway roads to be annexed into the city. The city council will vote on the pact and the annexation at its Oct. 1 meeting, City Manager Thomas Thanas said.
If the annexation goes through as expected, Oak Brook-based Centerpoint will begin negotiations with the CN and BNSF railroads to extend their tracks into a 200-acre site north of Patterson Road and east of Laraway Road to create the bulk rail terminal, said Eric Gilbert, Centerpoint’s senior vice president of infrastructure and logistics.
The terminal would introduce barge cargo to the Joliet intermodal center, where trains and trucks now exchange cargo.
The railroads, which run parallel with the Des Plaines River, would have to build spurs to reach Centerpoint’s recently acquired property. If the new barge/rail terminal is built, it would allow for bulk loads of steel, stone, salt, lumber, coil and other materials to be transferred to and from the site, Gilbert said.
Also, annexation into Joliet will allow city sewer and water lines to be extended to the site, which could lead to more warehouse development, Gilbert said. He said Centerpoint already has 14 million square feet of warehouse space at its two business parks in Joliet and Elwood and a bulk rail terminal could add another 1 million square feet.
Gilbert said Centerpoint has “one solid prospect” for such a bulk rail site, but he declined to name the company.
The county had a 2004 contract with the site’s former owner, Gerard Keating, of Mining International, that prevented the land from being annexed into a municipality for 20 years.
When Keating sought permission to start an underground mine at the site, he agreed to keep the land unincorporated to preserve the county’s 1.25 percent sales tax revenue from the mine’s limestone sales.
In exchange for the county allowing the land to be annexed, Joliet will replace the county’s lost sales tax revenue — about $75,000 annually — for the remaining 11 years of the Keating contract.
Centerpoint has been acquiring land in the Elwood-Joliet area since 1999 and owns about 6,400 acres. The most recent acquisition came in June when the company acquired 20 acres from Keating, including a barge terminal along the Des Plaines River. Keating retains his underground mining rights, but Centerpoint can now develop the property.
Included in Centerpoint’s holdings are the 800-acre BNSF intermodal center in Elwood, which opened in 2002, and an industrial park in Joliet that is anchored by the Union Pacific-owned 835-acre intermodal facility, which opened in 2010.
Of all of Centerpoint’s land holdings, only about 250 acres, including the 138 acres formerly owned by Keating, were not part of either Elwood or Joliet, Gilbert said. He said annexing the final acreage into Joliet will help the company in its negotiations with CN and BNSF to create the bulk rail terminal along the river.
Adding the barges and the bulk rail terminal to the Joliet intermodal site “adds a new dimension, a multi-modal element to the park,” Gilbert said. “We believe it will drive significant new business to Centerpoint and the city of Joliet.”