JOLIET – The Will County Board has unanimously approved an overweight limit increase for trucks on Arsenal Road to keep commerce moving into local intermodal yards.
Mark Schneidewind, manager for the Will County Farm Bureau, applauded the move during a public hearing at Thursday's Will County Board meeting.
“We'd like to thank the County Board and the committees that have worked on putting this resolution forward,” he said. “The agriculture industry, along with a lot of other businesses, have relied very heavily on the overweight permit.”
The development follows a decision last month by the Illinois Commerce Commission to shut down the railway crossing at Walter Strawn Drive, a major entry point to the CenterPoint Intermodal Center parks in Joliet and Elwood, where freight is moved between trains and trucks at two intermodal yards.
County-controlled Arsenal Road is a major alternative, but weight limits are lower there than what was allowed on Walter Strawn. Some grain already is being hauled elsewhere and there is a threat of businesses moving out, officials have said.
Ramona Ennabe, with Ennabe Logistics Inc., a small trucking and logistics company based in Downers Grove that specializes in overweight services, urged county board members to approve the increase prior to the vote.
The amendment is only good for 90 days because the county is concerned about future maintenance issues with heavier trucks on Arsenal Road. Weight limits on Arsenal Road will increase to 92,000 pounds per truck. The weight limit is now 88,000 pounds.
The amendment also creates a new fee structure for permits, replacing the per-trip permits with a daily permit at $50, a weekly permit at $250 and a monthly permit at $500.
The number of heavy trucks going onto Arsenal Road has spiked since Walter Strawn was closed. The county issued 7,300 overweight permits in the 11 days following the crossing shutdown. That compares to 16,000 permits for all of 2014.
Ennabe said outside the meeting she hopes the county lets Illinois take over Arsenal Road and its maintenance. That would reduce the number of permits required by truckers from three to two.
With the new weight increase, trucking companies must obtain three separate permits from the Village of Elwood, the state and the county.
Will County Executive Larry Walsh said county and state officials are discussing that as a long-term solution. In the meantime, something had to be done to give overweight trucks access to CenterPoint Intermodal Center in Joliet and Elwood, he said.