JOLIET – City Manager Jim Hock said the city of Joliet may consider charging for overweight permits if a survey shows a disproportionate number of trucks being diverted to Joliet by the closing of the Walter Strawn Road railroad crossing.
The railroad closing in Elwood has led to trucks finding other ways to get in and out of the CenterPoint Intermodal Center.
Hock said the city in March or April will do a count of the number of trucks using Laraway Road in Joliet.
A problem already has developed on the west end of Laraway Road, where trucks have backed up a half-mile outside of the entrance to a Waste Management facility, Hock said.
“These kind of unintended consequences are happening when you close Walter Strawn Road,” he said.
The Illinois Commerce Commission in January shut down Walter Strawn Road at Route 53 out of concern for public safety because of a railroad crossing just off of the intersection. It has been the scene of a large number of crashed gates.
Walter Strawn served as a route into the CenterPoint Intermodal Center.
The problem, Hock said, is that trucks now have the option of using Arsenal Road, where Will County charges $20 for overweight permits, or Laraway Road, where Joliet does not charge for overweight permits.
The city does not charge for overweight permits to encourage economic development in the Joliet section of the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, Hock said.
Hock said he is concerned truckers will opt for Laraway Road to avoid the overweight permit.
“We want to see what kind of extra burden that is,” Hock told the Joliet City Council at a meeting last week.
At that meeting, Councilman Jim McFarland raised the possibility of CenterPoint taking over responsibility for Laraway Road someday.
Councilman Larry Hug noted the city has portable scales that could be used to check and enforce weight restrictions.
Police Chief Brian Benton replied that stopping trucks for weight checks could come with drawbacks.
“The more enforcement we have down there, the more opportunity for gaper delays,” Benton said.