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Local News

Semitrailers pour onto Joliet roads with South Chicago Street shut down

The closing of South Chicago Street with no re-opening date on the horizon has shown the fragility of an aging local road system being used by an ever expanding logistics industry.

Semitrailers finding alternate routes to the intermodal yards on Tuesday filled other roads and wandered into residential streets with the main route to Interstate 80 closed off.

The road has been closed between Patterson Road and Doris Avenue since flooding rainwater on Sunday churned up pavement at a railroad viaduct.

"That was not a surprise whatsoever." said Megan Cooper. "They should have done work on that. There are constantly potholes and people messing up their cars on potholes."

Cooper is one of the founders of a group called the South Side Initiative that has been among the critics of the NorthPoint Development project and other warehouse plans that have been approved despite a regional road and highway network widely believed to be inadequate for the semitrailers using it.

The narrow passage through the viaduct is usually filled with semitrailers using South Chicago Street, also Illinois 53 and U.S. 52, at that point, to go between I-80 and the intermodal yards to the south.

Joliet last month approved NorthPoint's plans to develop 16 million square feet of mostly warehouse space on nearly 1,300 acres. The project faced fierce residential opposition.

"This is exactly the point we were trying to make with the NorthPoint issue," Bishop Steven Evans said of the truck traffic pouring onto other roads with Chicago Street blocked off.

Evans' Leap of Faith Ministries church is on Richards Street, the alternate route recommended with Chicago Street closed. He tried to get there Tuesday.

Richards Street, Mills Road, Rowell Avenue, Briggs Street – he named them and more, adding, "All of them, trucks were everywhere. It was terrible."

A retired truck driver, Evans said, "I understand trucks have to get somewhere. They're going to find an alternate route."

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Transportation said Tuesday that no timetable has been set yet for reopening South Chicago Street. But IDOT plans to move quickly to repair pavement and replace the asphalt overlay.

Chunks of asphalt were lifted up and piled upon each other by the flooding rainwater. The road had been resurfaced in the last few years, but it appeared the new asphalt was torn out by the water.

"I think it illustrates what we have been harping on," said Will County Board Member Rachel Ventura, another critic of the NorthPoint plan. "We've had infrastructure challenges, and they've been paved over."

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