Sunday, June 21, 2015

Would a Houbolt Road Bridge Help Will County Traffic?

At a June 17, 2015 of the Elwood International Port Authority, Salvatore Di Bernardo, Executive Vice President of Ciorba Group, Consulting Engineers, gave a presentation on a Houbolt Road Bridge over the Des Plaines River.  After the presentation, audience members working in the logistics and rail industries in Will County and Village of Elwood officials discussed how a potential Houbolt Road Bridge might affect truck traffic in Will County:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Federal Judge Rules Illiana Tollway's Approval Invalid


The Environmental Law and Policy Center issued the following release today after a ruling by Federal Judge Jorge Alonso:
"Chicago—The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued a strong decision declaring the federal and state transportation agencies’ approvals of the proposed Illiana Tollway to be illegal.

“The Federal Court decision is a big victory for the Environmental Law & Policy Center and our clients and for sensible transportation planning and priorities,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “We are very pleased the Federal District Court has ruled in our favor, which should bring the boondoggle proposed Illiana Tollway to an end.”

The Federal District Court held that the Federal Highway Administration’s and Illinois Department of Transportation’s approvals of the final Tier One Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) were “arbitrary and capricious and in violation of NEPA” (National Environmental Policy Act). 

Judge Jorge Alonso determined that IDOT’s plans to build the Illiana Tollway was based on analyses that are “fatally flawed.” He said the agencies used a circular logic to make their initial case about how the proposed Illiana Tollway will lead to population growth and traffic demand. They assumed traffic growth would be the same regardless of whether the costly proposed new Illiana Tollway was ever built. The Court remanded the EIS and ROD to be redone in accordance with the decision and applicable law. 

Today’s Federal Court decision forces the Illinois and Indiana Departments of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to go back to the drawing board.

“IDOT, INDOT and FHWA need to go back to square one, or not at all,” said Learner. “It’s time for Gov. Rauner and the federal and state transportation agencies to bring the proposed Illiana Tollway to an end. We need to close this sad chapter in Illinois transportation politics and misplaced priorities. The Illiana Tollway is a fiscal boondoggle, contrary to sound regional transportation policy, and would degrade the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.”"

Read the judge's summary opinion here.  

Houbolt Bridge Presentation on Agenda for Elwood International Port Authority Meeting

A presentation on a "Houbolt Bridge" is on the Agenda for the June 17, 2015 5:00 p.m. meeting of the Elwood International Port Authority.   The Elwood International Port Authority meets at the Elwood Village Hall--401 Mississippi in Elwood.

The Houbolt Bridge has been proposed as a way to route trucks from the Elwood and Joliet Intermodals onto I-80.  It has been suggested that a Houbolt Bridge would relieve traffic on Laraway, Route 53, and other roads.


Here is the agenda for the meeting, from the Village of Elwood's website:

AGENDA
ELWOOD INTERNATIONAL PORT AUTHORITY MEETING

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
5:00 PM
CALL TO ORDER
ROLL CALL
PLEDGE TO FLAG
PUBLIC COMMENTS
(limited to two (2) minutes per person)

  1. ICC Update
  2. Traffic Patterns
  3. Seasonal Issues
  4. Elwood International Port Directional/Way Finder Signs
  5. OJT (On the Job Training) Hiring Grant Nisha Floyd
  6. Houbolt Bridge Presentation:
6a. ENGINEERING: Salvatore Di Bernardo, PE Executive Vice President CIORBA GROUP, Consulting Engineers

6b. ENVIRONMENTAL: Stacy MeyersPolicy Coordinator OPENLANDS
OTHER BUSINESS 
ADJOURNMENT 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Traffic Problems Continue as Illiana is Put on Hold

By Mary Baskerville

MANHATTAN—The governor’s announcement to suspend work on the Illiana Expressway puts Manhattan in the position of waiting for transportation solutions.  “The problem is all the towns and municipalities are caught in this tug-of-war between the governor and the legislators,” Mayor James Doyle said.

“With everybody—it’s wait and see.”

The Illiana would help relieve heavy truck traffic through the center of town, Doyle said. Meanwhile, the Village of Manhattan continues to see about a ten percent increase in heavy truck traffic travel on U.S. Route 52 in the wake of the closing of Walter Strawn Drive in Elwood, he said.

Citing a lack of money, the governor’s office said in a news release Tuesday that the Illiana would be taken off the current multi-year plan list. The release went on to say: “It is the determination of IDOT that the project costs exceed currently available resources. The Department will begin the process of suspending all existing project contracts and procurements.”

Speaking after the regular village board meeting, Doyle said the governor’s action doesn’t necessarily kill the Illiana:   “It’s taken off the list—but the study still counts. If they would have discarded the study, then it would have been dead for sure. But since the study is not discarded, if they come up with funds, if they figure out a way, they could put it back on the list.”

The stop on the Illiana “is putting the congestion back on I-80 and 55 and 53—and they are already hazards now,” Doyle said. “They are bottlenecks for trucks, and there are more accidents than ever before.”  

The village had been in favor of the Illliana and wanted to see an interchange at Cedar and Wilmington-Peotone Road, he said. 

A hold on the Illiana does not change Manhattan's planning:  “For right now, it doesn’t change the planning,” Doyle said. “We can’t stop trucks from using the state truck routes.”  


There have been no recent truck counts through town, but the village will enforce weight limits and speed limits: “We want the residents to be safe.” 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Breaking: Governor Rauner Stops Illiana Expressway

Governor Rauner issued a news release outlining steps his administration is taking "to begin balancing the phony Madigan-Cullerton budget."

The Illiana Expressway was included on the list of steps the Governor will take
"In light of the state's current fiscal crisis and a lack of sufficient capital resources, the Illiana Expressway will not move forward at this time. As a result, the Illinois Department of Transportation will remove the project from its current multi-year plan. It is the determination of IDOT that the project costs exceed currently available resources. The Department will begin the process of suspending all existing project contracts and procurements."

The Sierra Club released the following statement in response to Rauner's decision:
"We're pleased that IDOT has heard the concerns of farmers, local officials and business owners. This project would not only waste taxpayer money, but would disrupt their way of life. We pledge to work with local citizens and leaders to plan for transportation solutions for Will Co. and for creating jobs while making the best use of public resources. "