Trucking Facility Proposed Near Suburban Military Cemetery Sparks Controversy

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A group of military veterans has joined on with a lawsuit aiming to stop a company from building a new trucking facility in the southwest suburbs, one that the group says would potentially cause disruptions and even potential damage at the nations’ second-largest veterans’ cemetery.

The veterans appeared at a press conference Wednesday at Chicago’s Pritzker Military Museum and Library, saying they have now joined a lawsuit filed by the “Stop NorthPoint” organization.

Those veterans say semi-trucks connected to previous industrial developments in the area have damaged headstones at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery while trying to access those sites through the cemetery grounds, and a proposed ‘fly bridge’ connecting the transport terminal to a nearby highway could cause even more impacts.

“As you might be seeing, the trucks have gone over graves. What a slap in the face to everyone who has served,” Allen Lynch, a Medal of Honor recipient, said during the press conference. “It’s not conducive to a peaceful, respectful reflection.”

The facility is planned on Joliet’s south side, near the towns of Elwood and Manhattan. The company received approval on a “pre-annexation plan” last year for the planned development, according to documents.

The lawsuit filed by the Stop NorthPoint group is aimed at bringing a halt to the project, and the group’s spokeswoman Erin Gallagher says that local officials have expressed reservations about the project.

“There are a number of issues to be addressed, and that is what is so critical to this,” she said.

Company executives have defended the project, citing an estimated 10,000 jobs and $20 million in annual revenue that would be created by the new logistics and manufacturing center. The company says it is sympathetic to the concerns of the community over potential impact at the nearby cemetery.

“We know full well the concerns about increased truck traffic associated with the inevitable industrial growth around the BNSF and UP intermodal railyards. From the beginning our plan for Compass was built on a solution to capture the truck traffic through a series of carefully planned mitigations -- while going well beyond that to help alleviate the current problems generated by existing developments,” the company said in a statement.

According to a spokesperson, the company is aiming to minimize the impact on the cemetery by constructing a dedicated truck bridge over nearby Route 53, which would connect the truck yard with nearby railyards and would prohibit truck access to the street and local roads, which will prevent interference with cemetery visitors and processions.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has largely stayed out of the fray, saying that he would prefer the matter to be settled by local officials both within Joliet and at the state level.

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