Report: CenterPoint plans second Joliet intermodal
By Bob Okon email@example.com June 13, 2011 6:26PM
Updated: August 3, 2011 8:26PM
JOLIET — CenterPoint Properties apparently plans to build a second intermodal yard in Joliet.
In an interview with CenterPoint CEO Michael Mullen published Monday, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that the company plans to build a 300-acre train-to-truck terminal at its Joliet site in addition to the Union Pacific intermodal yard there now.
Mullen and other CenterPoint officials could not be reached for comment on plans for Joliet despite repeated attempts Monday by The Herald-News.
The plan does not appear to be nailed down. The Crain’s story does not list a timetable for another intermodal yard, only saying that CenterPoint hopes to announce the plan sometime next year.
It also was not clear how much the company has confided with Joliet city officials about its plans to add another intermodal yard in the city.
Joliet City Manager Thomas Thanas said the CenterPoint agreement with the city does allow for expansion of its intermodal operations here.
“When the original project was approved in 2008, it was designed for potential expansion of the intermodal facility. This is the next step,” Thanas said.
CenterPoint owns more than 3,600 acres on the south end of Joliet. The CenterPoint Intermodal Center-Joliet includes Union Pacific’s 785-acre intermodal yard where containers are transferred from trains to trucks for regional and local shipments.
Thanas said he was aware of CenterPoint’s interest in building a second intermodal yard here, although he did not know where the company planned to build and whether it would be an expansion of the existing site.
Mayor Thomas Giarrante, who was a key figure in working on the original CenterPoint plan when he was a member of the city council, said he did not know the company had plans in the works for a second intermodal yard.
Thanas said such a project would be welcomed because it would bring more jobs and construction work to Joliet.
“It was anticipated in 2008 that the expansion would come someday,” Thanas said. “We weren’t anticipating that it would come this quickly in the current economic climate.”
Joliet and neighboring communities, however, also have been dealing with the costs of heavy truck traffic coming out of the Union Pacific intermodal yard as well as the BNSF intermodal facility in Elwood.
City and county officials have been trying to get state approval of a new authority that would tax intermodal business in order to pay for the maintenance of the local roads being worn away by the additional heavy traffic.
That proposal needs approval from the state legislature, which did not vote on it in the recent legislative session. State Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, D-Joliet, plans to spend the summer working on the bill to create a plan that pleases all of the stakeholders.
News of plans for a second intermodal yard also comes at a time when surrounding development has been relatively light in CenterPoint Intermodal Center-Joliet. A Home Depot warehouse is under construction, and a distribution center for the nearby Stepan Co. chemical plant has been built.