Joliet truck traffic raises commute concerns for Elwood students

Elwood school officials are planning to investigate whether they should send their students to high school in Wilmington instead of Joliet following concerns over truck traffic.

During the Feb. 13 board meeting for Elwood Community Consolidated School District 203, the board requested a study to “examine the issues and processes” for potentially sending their students to Wilmington High School instead of Joliet Township High School District 204, said Tim Page, District 203 superintendent.

“The Elwood Board has growing concerns regarding the commute from Elwood to Joliet given the significant increase in truck traffic and the recent approval of more warehouses between the two schools which will further increase safety concerns during the commute,” Page said.

During a discussion at the meeting, the board brought up “issues with traffic accidents and how the time of the commute has grown significantly in recent years,” Page said.

An aerial view of distribution centers for the NorthPoint group near the intersection of Noel Road and Illinois Route 53 on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024 in Elwood. NorthPoint is developing the Third Coast Intermodal Hub, a warehouse development of more than 2,000 acres stretching from Joliet to Elwood.

Page said Wilmington is a similar distance from Elwood and does not have truck traffic.

Nothing has been set in stone yet. Page said the board has asked him to pursue having a study done that will make recommendations on where Elwood students should go.

District 204 is aware of Elwood’s plans but has no comment as of Tuesday, according to Kristine Schlismann, the district’s spokeswoman.

Page said he is waiting for the Illinois State Board of Education to contact him regarding the study.

District 203 has an enrollment of 265 students and it is listed as one of five “feeder schools” for Joliet Central High School, according to the 2022-2023 Illinois Report Card. The district has students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

On Jan. 16, the Joliet City Council approved a 17-acre annexation sought by NorthPoint Development for an area at Route 53 and Noel Road, where the developer wants to build a cold-storage warehouse. The council also approved zoning for a truck terminal that CenterPoint Properties wants for Brandon Road.

Joliet Terry D’Arcy has said the city met with NorthPoint, CenterPoint, county and state officials with the goal of coming up with plans to reduce congestion and increase road safety.

NorthPoint has faced fierce opposition from neighboring officials and nearby residents, including those who live in Elwood and Manhattan.