ELWOOD – Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery has frequently had to deal with semi-trucks entering its grounds, sometimes causing damage, despite multiple signs warning that trucks aren’t allowed entry.
There have been two recent instances of trucks entering the cemetery and knocking over street signs on Feb. 2 and Feb. 6. Photos of the damage were posted by Say No to NorthPoint, an activist group advocating against the proposed Compass Business Park.
Part of their argument against the 2,200-acre industrial park focuses on the potential of increased truck traffic. NorthPoint Development has said they will install a closed loop ensuring trucks will stay off most of Route 53 and local roads.
But the opponents of the project point to the numerous instances of trucks coming from the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, also in Elwood, not following a designated route and entering the cemetery. Timothy Jilek, the cemetery operations foreman, said this happens despite multiple signs with both words and images indicating that trucks are not allowed.
Elwood Police Chief Fred Hayes estimates they get calls regarding trucks entering the cemetery about once a week, sometimes more.
“This has actually been occurring for several years now,” Hayes said.
He added that the frequency of trucks entering the cemetery increased ever since Walter Strawn Drive, just north of the cemetery entrance, was closed.
Hayes and Jilek said the cemetery is trying to come up with ways to improve the problem with the Illinois Department of Transportation, including adding more or better signs.
But the Say No to NorthPoint activists insist that they do not want to risk more trucks because the precautions used have been inadequate and they hold the national cemetery sacred.
“When will Elwood officials realize that signage doesn’t matter?” the group wrote on its website. “That adding more trucks to our roads will only exacerbate the problems – like this – that we experience with our current traffic. Enough is enough.”