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Local News

Trains stopped after Elwood truck accident

ELWOOD – Amtrak services were shut down temporarily at the Walter Strawn Drive railroad crossing near Route 53 late Wednesday morning while crews cleared away a semitrailer that had rolled over on its side.

Traffic was backed up for about two-and-a-half hours one mile both ways along Route 53 after the crash, Elwood Police Chief Fred Hayes said. Officers directed traffic by alternating the flow of traffic through the eastbound lanes of Walter Strawn.

The semitrailer did not roll over onto the tracks, but it was close enough to warrant a Amtrak service stop order, Hayes said.

The railroad crossing, where gates were broken nearly 50 times in 2013, is the focus of a series of hearings through the Illinois Commerce Commission, which governs the state’s railway system. Earlier this year, the ICC reopened a 2001 case brought forward by Elwood amid safety concerns.

The driver, Sergio Aguirre, 35, of Joliet was traveling north on Route 53 and attempted to make a left turn onto Walter Strawn when the accident occurred. He was cited for failing to reduce speed and driving too fast for conditions, Hayes said.

Aguirre suffered a minor leg injury, but refused medical treatment at the scene, Hayes said.

Local authorities worked with Union Pacific, which owns the tracks running across Walter Strawn Drive, to issue a stop order for all Amtrak passenger trains while crews cleared the scene.

Since late July, two Will County sheriff’s deputies have been stationed at Route 53 and Walter Strawn Drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. The squad cars also escort funeral processions traveling to the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.

While the accident wasn’t a serious one, Hayes said the crash shows the intersection still is a public safety hazard, despite the presence of marked squad cars.

“This is an indication that even with marked police cars and uniformed officers at the intersection, the excessive amount of semi-truck traffic, along with the aggressive driving exhibited by many of the vehicles, is contributing to this dangerous intersection,” Hayes said.

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