Joliet officials welcome CN intermodal; up to 30 new jobs expected to be added
By Bob Okon email@example.com January 22, 2013 1:08PM
Artist's rendering of the CN Joliet Intermodal Service Center during a groundbreaking ceremony off Draper Ave. and Stein Ave. Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 24, 2013 6:13AM
JOLIET — CN railroad’s new intermodal yard to be built on the East Side will mark $40 million of investment in its Joliet operations since arriving in 2008, a company executive said Tuesday.
City officials and community leaders welcomed the intermodal facility at a frigid groundbreaking ceremony held less than a week after CN announced the project.
“This marks our latest partnership with the city of Joliet,” Keith Reardon, CN’s vice president for intermodal services, told the gathering. “Our partnership and our collaboration will only grow.”
CN would not put a value on the intermodal construction project, which is expected to be done in June. But Reardon said total infrastructure investments in Joliet since the company acquired the old Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway in 2008, total $40 million.
The company has added jobs at the Joliet yard, which now employs nearly 160 workers. Another 15 to 30 new jobs are expected at the intermodal facility.
CN also is funding a $2.9 million bypass road that allows the closing of the Woodruff Road crossing just east of the Joliet yard.
Reardon said CN plans to expand business with the Joliet intermodal yard.
But train traffic should not increase much, according to a company spokesman who said one intermodal train would go into the Joliet yard and one would go out. The intermodal train already goes through Joliet at times, the spokesman said.
CN and Joliet have had a cooperative relationship from the start. Joliet was the first town to come to an agreement with CN on how to offset the impact of the company’s increased rail traffic after acquiring the E,J&E.
“Joliet is ecstatic to have you here,” Mayor Thomas Giarrante said at the groundbreaking. “CN is a great company to work with.”
The relationship could be tested with the intermodal yard. CN expects 175 trucks a day to go through the facility, and the city does not want to see those trucks moving west into more residential areas and downtown.
Neither CN nor the city can keep trucks off of state and federal routes such as Route 6, which goes west into the downtown area. But officials with both the company and city said truckers will be encouraged to drive east toward Interstate 355 as a preferred route.
The city is having CN widen Draper Avenue north of the future entrance to the intermodal yard to Route 6 to accommodate the truck traffic.
The CN project also marks more redevelopment in the vicinity of the old Silver Cross Hospital campus, which was vacated a year ago when the hospital moved to New Lenox. The old emergency center is being redeveloped for a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic. Aunt Martha’s Youth Services is building a medical clinic. And Volunteers of America this month proposed the construction of apartment for homeless veterans.
“Who would have thought back in the day that all this would happen?” said Councilwoman Jan Quillman, reflecting on concerns that the hospital site would lie undeveloped.
Bettye Gavin, executive director of the Forest Park Community Center in the neighborhood directly affected by the Woodruff Road bypass, said, “The CN collaboration is great for the Forest Park neighborhood.”