Vulcan Quarry Joliet Road – resolution is a long way off

(McCook, Illinois)  —  It has been more than 11 years since the Illinois Department of Transportation closed Joliet Road crossing Vulcan Quarry in McCook, which the state said is impassable from years of mining.

Still, the battle rages in court.

Attorneys from IDOT and the mining company will face each other again Jan. 19 in an attempt to determine how much and how far Vulcan should go in the state’s bid for restitution.

Several attempts to reach an IDOT spokesman were unsuccessful.

In 2004, IDOT announced it was no longer feasible to repair and reopen the closed section of Joliet Road after experts found the roadway, destabilized from years of mining, was still moving, and any attempts to repair and reopen Joliet Road would “require frequent and expensive maintenance, including lane closures.”

At that time, according to IDOT, Vulcan Materials would not agree to mining setbacks and land contributions necessary to implement any repair options considered.

IDOT then filed suit against Vulcan Materials blaming its mining operation for damaging the road and sought restitution to be used for funding area roadway improvements to offset the effects of the Joliet Road closure.

Vulcan officials contend they have tried to reach an agreement with the state.

“During the past decade, Vulcan has attempted on numerous occasions to resolve this in a fair and equitable manner, but its efforts have been unsuccessful,” Vulcan attorney Scott J. Szala said.

The one-mile portion of Joliet Road that crosses the quarry from East Avenue to Joliet Road in McCook was deemed unsafe and ordered closed by IDOT in May 1998 after it was discovered the road was actually moving or slipping off the narrow land bridge on which it sits.

State experts concluded the problem was caused by years of blasting and mining near the land bridge by Vulcan Materials.

The closure set off a firestorm of objections from neighboring communities, most notably Countryside, over concerns that the loss of the east-west arterial would greatly increase traffic throughout the area.

More than 20,000 cars and trucks have been rerouted daily to other roads as a result of the closure.

Numerous public hearings were held in surrounding communities, and residents, community and state officials contended because Vulcan was responsible for the road closing, it was liable for damages and ultimately repairs. Several plans to repair the road were proposed and rejected by both Vulcan and state officials.

Countryside Mayor Robert Conrad said he was of course frustrated over the length of time it’s taking to reach some resolution. Conrad recently sent a letter to the Illinois Attorney General’s office asking for an update.

“It’s been going on a long time and maybe it needs to be,” he said. “But I don’t know where the end is. I’m not surprised. As long as everybody gets righted for it then we’re good.”

By: Joe Sinopoli,


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