With proposals for two large scale industrial parks in the works — in Crete and Elwood — Will County officials say they hope their soon-to-be-adopted Community Friendly Freight Mobility Plan will help local leaders minimize the impacts of these sizeable projects.
This is good timing for the freight study, because developers have yet to submit formal plans to their respective villages, said John Greuling, president and CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development.
Greuling, in addressing members of the county's Ad-Hoc Economic Development Committee Tuesday, said the new plan should assist developers, zoning administrators and town officials in deciding what needs to be done to address issues of traffic management, infrastructure, and workforce development.
The Will County Board is expected to adopt the $1 million study this summer.
In Crete, the Florida-based CSX Corp., has purchased land for a new intermodal facility between Crete-Monee Road and Goodenow Road, just west of Illinois Route 1, and plans to build a $230 million intermodal facility.
Residents have expressed concerns that the existing infrastructure could not handle the anticipated truck traffic.
In Elwood, NorthPoint Development is proposing to build the Compass Business Park, a $1.2 billion, 2,000-acre warehousing, distribution and light manufacturing park, just east of Route 53. It would include a dedicated truck route and a privately funded bridge to keep trucks off Route 53 and local roads.
Developers will be required to do traffic studies, Greuling said.
"These two projects will put amazing stress on our system," said committee chairman Chuck Maher, R-Naperville.
The freight study already has shown that there are parts of the transportation infrastructure in this region that are under stress now, including deficient bridges, Greuling said.
County officials said they will use the plan to seek federal dollars to upgrade the network of highways and bridges in the area.
But companies are "still coming here," Greuling said, adding that the most recent news is the fifth Amazon facility in Will County — a sorting facility in Crest Hill.
His office is currently working on 51 other economic development projects, of which 30 to 40 percent are transportation, distribution and logistics firms, he said.
The committee also adopted its mission statement, saying that it wants to promote and improve economic development through policies and procedures that foster desirable business growth while improving the quality of life of all residents in Will County."
Greuling said what businesses want most is "consistency and clarity" in policies and laws, and "fair enforcement."
"The vast majority of businesses want to operate legally," he said.
Committee member Steve Balich, R-Orland Park, said as the county's Land Use Department updates its zoning laws they need to make sure its codes are not a "hindrance to business."
Maher said if they come across policies that "conflict with economic development" they should bring them to the committee's attention.
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