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Elwood planning to revoke truck restrictions

Village wants CenterPoint to drop lawsuit

Published: Thursday, July 17, 2014 10:59 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)
A semitrailer crosses the railroad tracks March 2 after turning onto Walter Strawn Drive from Route 53 in Elwood.

ELWOOD – The village of Elwood plans to rescind a controversial ordinance prohibiting trucks from using Walter Strawn Drive with hopes that CenterPoint Properties will agree to withdraw its federal lawsuit.

The village’s attempt to have CenterPoint Properties withdraw the lawsuit during a federal court hearing Thursday was unsuccessful.

Instead, all three plaintiffs – CenterPoint, Union Pacific, and APL Logistics – requested the case be brought before a federal judge magistrate to reach a settlement, according to Michael Scotti, attorney for CenterPoint.

“That way, we can work on a global solution. This ordinance is not the beginning or end of the problem at [Walter Strawn Drive],” Scotti said. “The ordinance violated federal law. That’s not the solution. There are solutions out there but we have to work together. The village cannot continue to take unilateral action and expect to get results.”

Rather than fighting the lawsuit to keep traffic barriers in place, Elwood officials intend to do away with the ordinance next week during a Village Board meeting, according to a news release from the village.

Efforts to reach Elwood officials late Thursday afternoon were not successful.

In the news release, Elwood officials expressed frustration with CenterPoint, saying that the Intermodal facility owner has no desire to find a long-term solution.

“CenterPoint has no interest in improving safety as they have not presented a single long-term solution that would improve safety,” Elwood Village President William Offerman said in the news release. “We enacted a plan that reduced truck traffic and had been well received by businesses, but instead of working with us, CenterPoint’s only action has been to sue us. As long as they continue to fight us and delay us from making changes, the public is at risk. We will hold CenterPoint accountable.”

The next federal court date is set for Aug. 6.

CenterPoint, Union Pacific and APL Logistics filed the lawsuit last month after Elwood officials erected concrete barriers near the Walter Strawn Drive crossing to divert semitrailer traffic elsewhere.

The lawsuit contended the barriers violated federal law and that Elwood was illegally interfering with interstate commerce.

Opponents have argued the reroute caused major headaches for truckers who had to go miles out of their way, while village officials have maintained the decision to limit traffic was for the sake of public safety.

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