Will County call on Springfield to pass capital plan

5/15/2019, 3:40 p.m.

Joliet - The Will County Board called on the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Pritzker to pass a robust capital plan that funds desperately needed improvements to I-80, I-55 and other roads and bridges in Will County, which is home to the largest inland port in the United States.

“We’ve seen employment in the freight industry grow by 140 percent in Will County since 2005,” said Will County Speaker Denise Winfrey (D-Joliet). “We need a capital bill that will address the rapidly growing logistics industry and the overburdened infrastructure in Will County. At stake is the largest inland port in the United States. We cannot jeopardize this

major economic engine.”

Will County adopted a freight mobility plan in September 2017 that aims to provide community friendly strategies, goals, and policies for freight development throughout Will County over the next few years. In particular, the plan pinpoints 25 critical infrastructure projects. These include improving: I-80 from Ridge Road to US 30; the Weber Road Interchange at I-55; and the Lorenzo Road Interchange at I-55. The Plan also found that

further regional, state, and national funding is essential to maintain the county’s infrastructure.

“Infrastructure funding has been a critical message that we’ve taken to the statehouse in Springfield,” said Will County Board member and Legislative and Policy Committee Chair Jackie Traynere (D-Bolingbrook). “It’s not just about Will County, it’s about the economy in Illinois and frankly the entire country.”

Today, Will County is the largest inland port in the country, with more than 3 million containers traversing its rails, roads, and waterways each year. The freight industry supports 55% of the county's economy and provides more than 106,000 jobs. The value of products moving through Will County each year is about $65 billion, or 3.5% of the US GDP.

“Will County and the State of Illinois have partnered on a number of recent key infrastructure projects and we are hoping to keep the momentum going with a capital bill,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh, Sr. “With investments like improving I-80, Will County will remain competitive for additional economic development and keep residents safe on our roadways. I encourage the General Assembly and the Governor to keep working to get a capital bill done this year.”

The logistics and shipping industry in Will County is only expected to grow. Freight volume may reach nearly 600 million tons, valued at $1.2 trillion, by 2040. Without further planning, the Freight Plan found that the county’s current infrastructure would not be able to keep up:

bottlenecks and community safety could worsen, and Will County could lose economic competitiveness.

“The County Board adopted the Community Friendly Freight Plan to provide a framework and a tool for approaching the infrastructure needs in our region,” said Will County Board Minority Leader Mike Fricilone (R-Homer Glen).

“We hope that the General Assembly and the Governor are able to pass a Capital Bill that addresses the needs we’ve outlined in Community Friendly Freight Plan,” said Will County Board and Capital Improvements Committee Chair Herbert Brooks Jr. (D-Joliet).