Quarry Firm to Pay State $40 million in Joliet Road Case: Settlement to end 12-year Battle Over Buckled Street in McCook
By Gerry Smith, Tribune Reporter
8:50 p.m. CDT, May 18, 2010
Vulcan Materials Co. has agreed to pay $40 million to the Illinois Department of Transportation, ending a 12-year legal dispute over a faulty stretch of Joliet Road that divided the company's limestone quarry in west suburban McCook, the agency said Tuesday.
The Transportation Department closed a 1-mile stretch of Joliet Road between 55th Street and East Avenue in May 1998 when pavement suddenly shifted.
The closed roadway sits atop a narrow, pillar-like ridge that divides a deep, century-old limestone quarry operated by Vulcan. IDOT contended Vulcan caused the damage by mining too close to the ridge, undermining the road's rock foundation. Vulcan contended the cracks that caused Joliet Road to dip and buckle extend much deeper than the company mined.
Since the closure, thousands of vehicles have been rerouted to other roads, and Vulcan has ceased mining activities at the site. The state filed a lawsuit in 2001 after Vulcan did not agree to state-requested mining setbacks and land contributions. The settlement ended three weeks of negotiations in Cook County Circuit Court. Vulcan agreed to the settlement with no admission of liability, IDOT said Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., said IDOT engineers must first determine whether Joliet Road can be reopened, a scenario the congressman said was unlikely. Lipinski said IDOT will hold community meetings in coming months to get input from residents on how to improve traffic congestion caused by the road closure.
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