Will County voters and candidates discussed infrastructure and economic development at length during a forum in Joliet on Tuesday.
The Joliet Leadership Coalition hosted the forum with candidates for Will County executive and Will County Board Districts 8 and 10.
Democrats Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant and Nick Palmer, and Republican Nick Ficarello are running to be the next county executive. Will County Board members Denise Winfrey and Herbert Brooks Jr., both Democrats, are running for reelection in District 8. Democrats Natalie Coleman, of Plainfield, and incumbent Tyler Marcum, of Joliet, are running in District 10.
The incumbent county board members touted their efforts to lobby state legislators to include funds for local projects, including Interstate 80 improvements, in the capital plan passed last year.
Still, they said county board members have been working to streamline truck routes and improve aging county roadways.
"I 100% agree that we have a lot of traffic problems," Marcum said in response to one question. "Will County's been one of the fastest growing counties around in the entire country for years and our infrastructure was not built for a county of almost 700,000 people."
Brooks went so far as to say that he'd be in favor of a moratorium on new warehouse construction until local infrastructure is improved to accommodate the growing industry.
Marcum added he wants to better communicate with individual municipalities the county's concern with increasing warehouses, especially when I-80 is under construction which he fears would make traffic "more of a mess."
Bertino-Tarrant answered a question about access to public transportation in the Joliet area. She said she'd heard complaints about inadequate bus routes and recently questioned Pace officials who said they had to balance their services with their budget.
"That's not good enough," she said. "People have to get to work. People have to get their kids places."
Palmer, who serves as the chief of staff to the current Will County executive, said the county is working on improved plans for land use and truck routing, which he acknowledged should have been done "a long time ago."
"It's being done now and hopefully we can learn from the mistakes of the past and learn things better,"
He added that if elected, he would work with the state and local municipalities on better truck routes to direct semis toward the highway and away from residential areas more efficiently.
The Illinois primary election is March 17.