Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk is speaking out following the latest Illinois Department of Transportation inspection of the I-80 bridge spanning the Des Plaines River showed “serious structural weaknesses.” The Mayor has instructed Joliet public safety officials to begin coordinating with the county, state and federal officials to establish a specific plan of action in the event of a partial or complete failure of the bridge. Mayor O’Dekirk has also stated that even though the city is prohibited by law from interfering in interstate traffic, he is prepared to order changes on an emergency basis if the state or federal government do not give the city a plan for funding and repairing the structural deficiencies the bridge is currently showing. Those changes are
1) Order the diversion of any vehicles seeking access to Interstate 80 entrance ramps which would lead to vehicles traveling over the bridge;
2) Post signs (4” by 8” or larger) on the Joliet streets near the entrance and exit ramps of I-80 which warn motorists of the potential danger involved in traveling over the I-80 bridge pending repairs
3) Notify all Joliet residents by mail, text, email and Public Service Announcements on cable television and local radio of the current potential dangers and designated alternative routes of transportation designed to limit traffic congestion on main thoroughfares
The Mayor also highlighted that the I-80 bridge is not the only transportation infrastructure repair urgently needed in the Joliet/Will County area, but it has now become an emergency for which emergency funds can be allocated by the state and federal agencies. WJOL has started it’s own private community based organization R.U.S.H. or Residents United for Safer Highways, as a way of highlighting transportation issues throughout Will County.