Frequently asked questions...
Stop NorthPoint is taking the recent news & information as presented by Joliet and the developer at face value. That a series of public hearings in Joliet are coming up in Nov. and Dec. 2021 to pass a new annexation agreement that spells out the details of nearly a thousand acres of newly acquired land, truck routes, and bridges.
We must better understand the urgency and take this battle to save our community more seriously.
"No bridge, no project"?
This was the idea that the only viable bridge option over Route 53 for the NorthPoint project is at Walter Strawn Drive in Elwood. That once the bridge in Elwood is defeated, the project is dead because there are no other bridge options.
This idea that the Elwood bridge is the lynchpin of the project should have died in Dec. 2020 when Joliet passed the annexation agreement, which stated the city would help the developer find an "alternate bridge location" over Route 53. As per statements made by the city in the Joliet Herald-News recently, this alternate location has been secured near Breen Road.
Doesn't the annexation agreement say they cannot get building permits without a bridge over Route 53?
The Joliet annexation agreement passed last December 2020 basically says this. However, this new proposal in front of Joliet is an entirely new agreement that would replace the previously passed agreement.
Quoting from page 6 of the Proposed Development Agreement:
Building permits shall not be approved by the City until the Temporary Connection, the termination of Bridge Road, and that portion of Compass Parkway lying west of Illinois Route 53 are under construction. Building permits shall not be approved by the City for buildings located east of Illinois Route 53 until Developer has posted a bond or other financial instrument with the City sufficient to insure the construction of the Route 53 Bridge. The City will cooperate with such construction as reasonably required, including changes to the Minimum Road Construction and Improvements, without requiring an amendment to this Agreement.
This only says they will need a bond for the Route 53 bridge to get building permits for the east side of Route 53. There is nothing stopping the issuance of building permits to the west of Route 53 (536 acres) after construction of the roads has begun.
They need ICC and IDOT approval for bridges, so won't this take a long time?
The original bridge proposal over Route 53 at Walter Strawn Drive near Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery presents several challenges including ongoing litigation with the Village of Elwood and an ICC (Illinois Commerce Commission) case that would be required to get through/over the previously closed railroad crossing.
These proposed northern bridges over Route 53 at Breen, over the railroad tracks at Millsdale, and over Manhattan Road would be within the City of Joliet. We expect Joliet to eagerly work with IDOT, ICC, and any other agency in order to obtain the necessary permits for constructing bridges. We cannot say how long this would take, but with Joliet's cooperation it would be a much easier path than the battle they are presently facing in Elwood.
Also see previous question. The Proposed Development Agreement states that a bond for a bridge is required for building permits east of Route 53. There are 536 acres west of Route 53 where they could start building as soon as their proposed roads are under construction.
Isn't there an MOU that prohibits trucks from using Millsdale Road?
There is a 2016 MOU (Houbolt Road Bridge Memorandum of Understanding) between IDOT, Will County, City of Joliet, and CenterPoint that prohibits certain roads from being used as truck routes in/out of CenterPoint. Millsdale Road is one. From page 10...
... in no event shall the CITY improve Millsdale Road between Illinois 53 and the railroad tracks east of Brandon Road ... to legally permit truck traffic.
NorthPoint intends to build a bridge over these railroad tracks at Millsdale Rd and connect it to a brand new road that runs southeast to a bridge over Route 53 at Breen Road. This bridge gets around the MOU restrictions as truck traffic crossing this bridge would not be using any part of Millsdale Road east of the tracks. A slide presented by NorthPoint to the public on November 8th, 2021 shows this new route.
Also, please keep in mind that the MOU is not written in stone. IDOT, Will County, City of Joliet, CenterPoint, NorthPoint, etc. can enter new agreements at any time.
Aren't bridges expensive, how can they afford to build so many?
NorthPoint's Compass Business Park is a billion+ dollar project and they have already spent tens of millions of dollars acquiring land, engineering studies, marketing, legal expenses, etc. Does anyone believe the cost of bridges is going to prevent them from proceeding?
Three of these four bridges were already mentioned in the Dec. 2020 Joliet annexation agreement.
- Bridge at Walter Strawn Drive. They are in the middle of costly litigation with the Village of Elwood over this intersection, and although Elwood has our full support and vows to fight to the end, NorthPoint has given no indication they are giving up on this location.
- Bridge over Manhattan Road just east of Rowell Road. This bridge connects the north and south parts of Compass and has been in the 2020 Joliet annexation agreement all along.
- Bridge over Route 53 at Breen Road. This is the famous "alternate bridge location" mentioned in the 2020 Joliet annexation agreement and, except for exact configuration, should come as no surprise to anyone.
- Bridge over railroad tracks at Millsdale Road. This bridge gets them into CenterPoint without violating the MOU mentioned previously, by keeping truck traffic off Millsdale Road between the tracks and Route 53. This is the only bridge that's not already part of the 2020 Joliet annexation agreement.
Tom George from NorthPoint made it very clear at the community meeting on Nov. 8th, 2021 that NorthPoint would "build as many bridges as necessary". Do you really think after already spending tens of millions they would willingly walk away because one of the four bridges was not previously mentioned in the annexation agreement?
What about bridges over Jackson and Manhattan Creeks?
These water crossings, more accurately known as culverts, are not indicated on the map because these would be inside the park on roads that are within Joliet's jurisdiction, and therefore would not need IDOT approval. Also, culverts that cross small waterways are very inexpensive compared to bridges over public roadways and rail lines. The cost of culverts is trivial to a billion-dollar project. We have no doubt that NorthPoint, with Joliet's cooperation, would build as many culverts as necessary within their park.
CenterPoint is a competitor, therefore CenterPoint is not going to allow them access to their park?
The railroad yards inside CenterPoint are not owned or operated by CenterPoint. BNSF and UP each own and operate a rail yard within CenterPoint. BNSF owns the rail yard within CenterPoint Elwood, and UP owns the rail yard within CenterPoint Joliet.
While it's true that CenterPoint and NorthPoint are competitors, CenterPoint cannot deny access to the roads or the railroad yards within.
But NorthPoint only wants access to the BNSF rail yard...
... therefore a bridge at Millsdale Road does them no good because it's closer to the UP rail yard?
False. At the Nov. 8th community meeting, NorthPoint representative Tom George made it clear that NorthPoint can and will use both rail yards.
They still do not have contiguity?
Joliet still has an issue with the legality of the contiguity of annexation at the corner of the FAA property on Rowell Road.
The present proposal within Joliet is roughly 2,300 acres. Ignoring property south of the FAA tower, roughly 1,400 acres to the north does not have a contiguity issue. On Nov. 8th, 2021 at the community information meeting, Tom George from NorthPoint stated that they intend on building the park starting north to south. 1400 acres ready to build immediately would give NorthPoint over one-third of their planned footprint without the need for any bridges. This is huge foot in the door - we must continue the fight and stop them before they start.