Will County Center for Economic Development
116 N. Chicago St.- Suite 101 - Joliet, IL 60432
tel: 815/723-1800 fax: 815/723-6972
contactus@willcountyced.com

Inland Port Assets

Will County’s assets as an Inland Port are considerable. Historically, Will County has thrived as a result of a well-developed transportation system of roads, rails and rivers and its location in relation to Chicago. More recently, assets have expanded to include several modern intermodal facilities, a large network of warehousing and distribution operations, a logistics-focused workforce and the availability of industrially-zoned land. Significant infrastructure improvements planned for Will County highlight the potential future importance of Will County’s Inland Port.

Will County’s Future Significance as an Inland Port Map

Intermodal Rail Transportation

Two modern intermodal facilities currently exist in Will County for the transfer of containerized goods from rail to truck. Located in southwest Will County, both facilities are part of expansive industrial/logistics park developments. Each are served by a Class I railroad and offer premier access to I-55 and I-80. Both were developed by CenterPoint properties and represent a significant private investment in the growth and development of Will County. Importantly, these facilities have established Will County as an important link in global supply chains.

Intermodal Facilities Map

BNSF Logistics Park, Elwood, Illinois

  • Opened in 2002
  • 2,500 acres total
  • 770-acre intermodal terminal
  • 12 m. sq. ft. of industrial space
  • Located in Free Trade Zone & Enterprise Zone
  • Distribution, warehousing & light manufacturing uses
  • Annual Lift Capacity: 1.5 m. TEU’s
  • Major Tenants:

 


Union Pacific Global IV, Joliet

  • Opened in August, 2010, offering international as well as domestic intermodal service
  • Located at 3000 Patterson Road, five miles south of I-80 and 7 miles east of I-55
  • Hours of Operation: 7 days, 24 hours
  • 3,600 total acres
  • 785-acre intermodal terminal
  • 20 m sq. ft. of industrial space
  • Distribution, warehousing & light manufacturing uses
  • Annual Lift Capacity: .5 m.
  • 4,200 Parking Slots 

               Aerial Photo of Union Pacific Intermodal 
               Watch CenterPoint Intermodal Video

Ridgeport Logistics Center - Chicago

Ridgeport Logistics Center is being developed near the city of Wilmington on 2,000 acres in unincorporated Will County through a partnership between Ridge Property Trust and BNSF Railroad. The project will ultimately consist of more than 20 million square feet of industrial distribution space and rail-served industrial buildings in addition to commercial and retail buildings to serve the park’s tenants and local residents. An FTZ designation is planned. The project has immediate access to I-55 from Lorenzo Road, and is less than 10 miles from the I-55/I-80 interconnect. IDOT has prioritized funding for the reconstruction of the I-55/Lorenzo Road interchange in its FY 11-15 highway improvement program.

Ridgeport Logistics Center or www.ridgeportlogisticscenter.com

Railroads

Will County’s Inland Port is an integral and growing part of Chicago’s national rail hub. There are six Class I Railroads with operations in Will County: BNSF, UP, CSX, CN, NS and IC. Two modern intermodal facilities have been constructed in southwest Will County since 2002 to handle the transfer of both domestic and international containers from two of the busiest ports in the country, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In total TEUs (one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent), Will County ranks 4th in the nation with over 3 million TEUs in 2008.

National Rail Network
TEU Comparisons by Port

The number of rail served sites in Will County will increase with development of the Ridgeport Logistics Center along the BNSF rail line.

In late 2008, the purchase of the EJ & E by the CN was approved by the national Surface Transportation Board. This circumferential line passes through multiple Will County communities. Traffic volumes on this and other rail lines in Will County are expected to grow steadily in the coming decades as rail transportation benefits from additional investment in infrastructure, its competitiveness on fuel efficiency and a favorable policy environment.
Railroad Properties in Will County*

*Note: the zoning data is maintained by the Will County Land Use Dept. and the analysis was completed by the Will County GIS Dept.

Highways

Will County’s Inland Port is defined by three major interstates - I-80, I-55 & I-57. I-80, the second longest interstate in the U.S., provides the primary east-west route through the county. The intersection of I-80 and I-55 west of the City of Joliet in northwestern Will County currently handles a high volume of through truck traffic as well traffic generated from local facilities.

Will County Transportation Networks

Illiana Expressway 

The Illiana Expressway, a new highway proposed to link I-55 with I-65 in Indiana , would enhance access to Will County ’s Inland Port. It is currently envisioned as a multi-modal transportation corridor with limited access that could act as an alternative to I-80. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have completed the first tier of the Illiana Corridor project, advancing one corridor and a no-build alternative into the second tier of the project. The recommended corridor, knows as "B3", extends from I-55 near Wilmington, Illinois to I-65 near Cedar Lake, Indiana, and was selected as the preferred alternative during the first tier of the planning process.

Interactive map available here

State Highway Improvements

At both the state and county level, significant investments are planned for the highway network in Will County to address anticipated increases in traffic volume, to upgrade the system for longer and heavier trucks, to improve safety for passenger vehicles and reduce and avoid congestion. In 2011 alone, the Illinois Department of Transportation has programmed $138.5 million in funds for interstate highway projects in Will County. One of these projects, the reconstruction of the Arsenal Road interchange on I-55, will accommodate the increase in traffic demands anticipated by the year 2030 and provide smoother access to intermodal freight terminals and industrial parks. A total of $668 million in District 1 state highway funds are programmed for Will County infrastructure upgrades in the next six years.

CED’s Transportation Blueprint for Will County, 2013
IDOT Highway Program Map for Will County, proposed FY 2011-2016
IDOT Funding for Will County Highways, FY 2011-2016

At-Grade Rail Crossings

Will County’s roadway network will be impacted by projected growth in vehicular and rail traffic alike, particularly at rail crossing locations throughout the county. Most of the rail crossings are at-grade in Will County. The CED’s Inland Port Impact Study includes a complete inventory of crossings including closest municipality, type of warning device, the number of daily trains and the average daily vehicles. The study recommends an evaluation of at-grade crossings based on land use and activity patterns, existing and planned traffic flows and the needs of the community.

Location of At-Grade Rail Crossings

Truck Routes

The interstate system is supplemented by a well-developed county highway system in Will County. In 2008, the Will County Board approved “Build Will”, a Multi-year Transportation Program containing over $292 million in funding for 60 projects throughout the county. The Will County Highway Department has designated the following five county highways as “Class II” truck routes:

Permits for Overweight/Oversize Trucks

At posted locations on the county highway system, the Highway Department has imposed circulation and weight restrictions due to roadway and bridge conditions. There are also posted height limits at three locations in the county due to railroad viaducts crossing over the roadway.

A permit issued by the Highway Department is required to operate a vehicle weighing up to 80,000 pounds on a county highway. Special provisions have been made in the permitting law for vehicles transporting locally-grown and containerized grain. County permits are issued by the Highway Department and enforced by the County Sheriff. Fines may be imposed on vehicles operating without a permit or outside of the legal weight restrictions.

Local roads in Will County under the jurisdiction of municipalities are subject to local ordinances as they pertain to permits and fines for overweight and oversize vehicles.

Oversize/Overweight Permit Map
Build Will 2010 Construction Projects

Inland Waterway System

Will County is home to a number of businesses and industries which rely heavily on the U.S. inland waterway and Great Lakes systems. Bulk commodities, including coal, grain, sand and stone are the most common products transported by water in Will County. Navigable waterways in Will County include the Illinois River, Des Plaines River and Cal-Sag Channel. The Illinois River connects into the Mississippi River to the south, providing access to Gulf of Mexico markets. The Cal-Sag Channel connects to Lake Michigan, providing a gateway into the Great Lakes waterway system. The Des Plaines River/Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal parallels I-55 and connects to the south branch of the Chicago River.

Map of River Terminals in Will County

Tonnage along the inland waterway system is measured by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at lock points. In Will County, tonnage data is captured south of Joliet at the Brandon Road lock and north of Joliet at the Lockport lock. Tonnage through the Brandon Road and Lockport Road locks by commodity are virtually identical. Non-fuel crude products were the largest tonnage category in 2008.

Freight Tonnage at the Brandon Lock

Business & Industrial Parks

Industrial Space in Will County has increased almost 100% in the last decade. Industrial parks and distribution facilities are dispersed throughout the county with concentrations 1) in the northern portion of the county 2) close to the intermodal facilities in the southwest and, 3) along I-80 through central Will County. Logistics companies are overwhelmingly locating within existing business and industrial parks developed with attention to highway and/or rail access, low drayage costs and flexible space needs. Businesses that rely on access to raw materials and large consumer markets benefit from the superior distribution network in place in Will County.

Business and Industrial Parks Map

Available Land

Will County is a large county with a diverse mix of land uses and a significant amount of undeveloped land. Based on area, 53% of the county is zoned agricultural, 32% municipal and 10% residential. Almost 3% of Will County is zoned for industrial development. Undeveloped land is concentrated in the central and eastern portions of the county.

Will County Land Use Map
Industrially – zoned Land in Will County
Will County Zoning Percentages by Total Parcels

*Note: the zoning data is maintained by the Will County Land Use Dept. and the analysis was completed by the Will County GIS Dept.

Workforce

Will County’s Inland Port benefits from having an existing workforce with training and experience in the transportation/logistics industry. Will County recruits from the large metropolitan Chicago labor market. Will County is home to several private universities, including the University of St. Francis and Lewis University, Governors’ State University and Joliet Junior College. The business community, elected officials, community groups and representatives of higher education have a history of working together on local workforce-related issues. Will County’s Inland Port links our area to the global economy and preparing the local workforce succeed is a shared priority going forward.