Will County accepted $750,000 in funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation today to support a comprehensive freight study that will help guide future planning and decision making regarding the continued growth of the freight industry in Will County. The Will County Community Friendly Freight Mobility Study seeks to be a holistic planning approach covering freight mobility, land use integration, workforce development and community livability.
A recent meeting of local industry leaders and county officials, held on Thursday, February 9 at Joliet Junior College, formally launched the outreach to the private sector. The purpose of this meeting was to gather information from individuals working in the freight industry sector to help the County identify and prioritize current issues and needs.
“I was very impressed with the number of participants at this first industry forum,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “Representatives from various public and private sectors came together to discuss challenges and ideas related to this study.”
Will County has been recognized as one of Illinois’ fastest growing counties in Illinois and the largest inland port in North America. The rapid economic rapid growth, coupled with continued population growth, have increased the strain on transportation infrastructure across the county. This study will help design investment strategies for future improvements.
“This study will provide a regional and national perspective to the transportation network in Will County,” said John Greuling, president of the Will County Center for Economic Development. “This is an important study to allow national and international businesses to thrive while protecting the quality of life for the residents of Will County.”
The County has retained Ann Schneider, former Illinois Secretary of Transportation and former chair of the national freight task force, to serve as project director for this study. Schneider has witnessed firsthand the county’s rapid economic growth and understands the challenge of balancing the needs of residents, agriculture and commercial development in the area.
“The goal of this study is to amplify the County’s return on investment,” Schneider said. “We need to reduce truck traffic on local streets and make intermodal transportation safer and more efficient.”
A key aspect of the Freight Plan will include the development of performance measures which will be used to develop a one, five, and 10-year prioritized investment strategy and freight-oriented workforce development plan. These will form the basis of the Freight Plan to help guide the actions of the County, the Freight Advisory Council and other stakeholders. More information on the study can be found at www.willcountyfreight.org.