NorthPoint may have another bridge option

Developer acquires land that could open a Joliet site for the required bridge

The proposed Compass Business Park would include a gateway bridge over Route 53, pictured in this screen capture from a YouTube 3D video made by NorthPoint Development.

NorthPoint Development has acquired land that may make it possible for the developer to build the bridge it needs for the future Compass Global Logistics Hub.

“There could be two bridges,” Joliet Assistant City Attorney Chris Regis said Wednesday.

But there definitely will be a requirement for a bridge over Route 53, even though the existing annexation agreement that requires a bridge will be rewritten, Regis said.

“Unequivocally, and we have had multiple meetings on this, the bridge requirement is staying in the agreement,” Regis said.

The Joliet Plan Commission on Nov. 18 is expected to consider the new agreement and additional land for the project in the area of Route 53 and Breen Road in Joliet.

Opponents to the NorthPoint's proposed Compass Business Park lift signs at the Joliet Plan Commission meeting on Monday.

The condition requiring the bridge is aimed at NorthPoint’s promise of a “closed loop” industrial park that would minimize truck traffic on Route 53 by providing direct access to the intermodal yards in Joliet and Elwood. Trucks serving warehouses in the Compass Global Logistics Hub would use the bridge to cross over Route 53 and reach the intermodal yards.

Opponents of the project have contended NorthPoint’s attempts to build the logistics park would be thwarted by the village of Elwood’s opposition to the developer’s plan to build the Route 53 bridge in Elwood.

The new agreement covers an additional 400 acres of land in the vicinity of Route 53 and Breen Road that NorthPoint is adding to the project and could make it possible for the developer to build two bridges, Regis said.

“The existing agreement provides a contingency for an alternative bridge location,” Regis said. “That is going to be addressed.”

The additional land is on both the east and west sides of Route 53 and includes the Smith family farm that was rezoned for industrial use in December 2017, Regis said. NorthPoint has acquired the 138.5-acre Smith property, which is on the southwest corner of Route 53 and Breen Road. Most of NorthPoint’s land is east of Route 53.

Representatives from building trades unions showed support for the NorthPoint project when it was presented to the Joliet Plan Commission on Feb. 24.

A NorthPoint spokesman did not respond this week to requests for comment on the developer’s latest proposal.

NorthPoint’s preferred bridge location, which is specified in the existing annexation agreement with Joliet, has been at Walter Strawn Road in Elwood. But Elwood is fighting the bridge in court. The new land being added to the project would make it possible for NorthPoint to pursue a bridge with approval from the host city, Joliet.

“These guys have invested a lot of money in the project. They’re eager to get started,” Regis said. “They know they can’t start without a bridge. Walter Strawn is tied up.”

The bridge ultimately would require approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission. But opposition from Elwood, which owns Walter Strawn Road, has impeded NorthPoint from seeking ICC approval.

A Will County judge last month ruled that Elwood was required by a 2007 agreement for future development at Walter Strawn Road and Route 53 to file documents needed by NorthPoint to pursue the bridge. But Elwood plans to appeal the ruling, which could put Elwood in the position of filing supporting documents while arguing against the bridge at an ICC hearing.

The additional 400 acres would expand the Compass Global Logistics Hub to about 1,700 acres.