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Local News

ICC issues order for permanent closure of Walter Strawn Drive

A crew works to close access to Walter Strawn Drive from Route 53 on Jan. 28, 2015, in Elwood. The Illinois Commerce Commission has issued a proposed order for the permanent closing of the railroad crossing.
A crew works to close access to Walter Strawn Drive from Route 53 on Jan. 28, 2015, in Elwood. The Illinois Commerce Commission has issued a proposed order for the permanent closing of the railroad crossing.

ELWOOD – The Illinois Commerce Commission has issued a proposed order for the permanent closing of the Walter Strawn Drive railroad crossing.

The crossing was a heavily used truck route at the CenterPoint Intermodal Center-Elwood before being shut down on a temporary basis on Jan. 28, 2015.

The road has not been reopened since, and it does not look like it will be.

"It is in the interest of public safety that the Walter Strawn Drive Crossing be permanently closed and abolished," reads the proposed order issued March 1.

According to the order, none of the parties in the case, which was fiercely debated at the time the crossing was closed, has argued for reopening Walter Strawn Drive since the interim order was put into effect.

"It's an order that will permanently close the railroad crossing," said Tom Gilbert, village attorney for Elwood. "There is nobody opposing the order that was a party to the ICC case."

The proposed order from the administrative law judge in the case must be approved by the ICC to become final.

The village of Elwood was the primary force seeking the closing of the crossing after railroad gates were crashed into 47 times – more than anywhere else in Illinois – in 2013.

The Union Pacific railroad runs parallel to Route 53, providing a short distance between the highway and the crossing for trucks that used Walter Strawn Drive. The road at the time was a primary entry point into CenterPoint Intermodal Center-Elwood.

CenterPoint Properties was the primary objector to the initial closing of the crossing, but the company took no position with the ICC on the permanent closing.

The order requires Union Pacific to remove the crossing surface, warning devices and pavement in the railroad right-of-way. Union Pacific would pay for barricades on both sides of the crossing.

The village and Illinois Department of Transportation will plan for any future work on the road and intersection through "standard planning and engineering processes" without ICC involvement, the order states.

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