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Local News

Elwood releases video of semitrailer breaking railroad gate

Village embroiled in legal fight with trucking interests over traffic control

ELWOOD – The village of Elwood released a video Thursday of a semitrailer breaking a railroad gate, stepping up a dispute with trucking interests that is now in the federal court.

The video shows a semitrailer going through the railroad crossing at Illinois Route 53 and Walter Strawn Drive as a gate comes down on top of the trailer and breaks apart.

Elwood Police Chief Fred Hayes said Thursday the village chose to release the video this week because the public “has a right to know” how dangerous that particular railroad crossing has become.

“It highlights what we’ve been trying to tell people,” Hayes said. “This video shows visually what we’ve been talking about all along. This is an extremely dangerous crossing. This shows the public what we, as law enforcement, see on a regular basis.”

Trucks broke through railroad gates at the Illinois Route 53 and Walter Strawn Drive crossing roughly 50 times in 2013.

The problems at the crossing are being reviewed by the Illinois Commerce Commission, which has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, highly dangerous, life-threatening close calls like those shown in this video have become business as usual in Elwood,” Village President William Offerman said in a news release accompanying the video posted on YouTube.

Offerman went on to say in the statement, “I refuse to put corporate interests ahead of the safety of the people of Elwood.”

Earlier this week, CenterPoint Properties, the developer of neighboring industrial parks in Elwood and Joliet, along with two other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

CenterPoint was joined in the lawsuit by Union Pacific, which operates an intermodal yard at CenterPoint Intermodal Center-Joliet, and APL Logistics, a trucking distribution company that operates out of the Joliet industrial park.

The lawsuit contends that Elwood’s rerouting of truck traffic violates federal law on interstate commerce, causes significant economic damage, and creates unsafe road conditions.​

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