I-55 Crash Scene All-Too-Familiar Near Elwood, Illinois
Posted on August 6th, 2014 by Zane Cagle
Last week, I blogged on the horrific dual Interstate 55 semi-truck crashes that killed five and injured four. The driver is currently being held on $1Million Bail in the fatal I-55 crash.
The stretch of I-55 where last week’s accidents took place has been the scene of dozens of accidents over the last couple of years. Ongoing roadwork near the Des Plaines River Bridge has let to constant backups. Police confirm that prior to Monday’s crashes, the area has seen 58 crashes in the last year!
Other Recent Victims of Interstate 55 Crashes Include
On June 11, an Osceola, Indiana man was killed when he was involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer truck in the northbound lanes near Arsenal Road
On July 17, a 68 year-old woman was killed in a six-vehicle crash in the northbound lanes near River Road, and a week later, a 61 year-old Arlington Heights man was killed in his Audi TT sports car just south of Interstate 80 in the southbound lanes.
Residents of local communities say traffic issues have spilled off of I-55
Residents of nearby towns like Elwood and Channahon say the Interstate 55 issues of construction and congestion have crossed over into their communities. The communities complain that motorists jumping off of I-55 to leapfrog the backups, causing ongoing safety concerns in their communities since the construction project began. State officials claimed until just a few weeks ago that accidents were down in the construction zone due to increased warning signs, including smart signs that give motorists the actual travel times through the zone. The project is expected to continue through October
After last week’s tragic tractor trailer crash resulting in the death of four when the truck driver plowed his semi-truck into their stopped vehicles in a construction zone on northbound I-55 near Arsenal Road. A second wreck 16 minutes later involved two semi’s colliding in the southbound lanes on I-55 at U.S. 6.
The state continue to urge Congressional leaders to strengthen law regarding continuous hours driven by truckers and to expand the use of electronic logs to track hours the driver spend on the road. The Governor also directed the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Toll Highway Authority and Illinois State Police to work with federal agencies and industry partners to prevent similar crashes in the future.
AT the Des Plaines River bridge project over I-55, the site of last week’s crash, IDOT has installed rumble strips approaching the work zone. Overhead message boards on state highways encourage motorists to stay vigilant and notify law enforcement if they spot dangerous drivers and more state troopers have been added around the I-55 work zone. As well, IDOT has established a detour option on Illinois 47 and Interstate 80 and postponed work on several surround road projects to help reduce traffic volumes on I-55.
Before last week, there were 91 accidents in 2013 and 41 in 2014 along that stretch, resulting in 31 injuries and two deaths. Statewide, Illinois averages more than 7,000 crashes in work zones every year. In 2013, there were 28 work-zone related fatalities including one worker. in 2012, there were 19 fatal work zone crashes, involving fatalities to 13 drivers, three passengers and three pedestrians, two of which were construction workers.
Additional state troopers have been hired to patrol work zones. At the Des Plaines River bridge project, these added patrols resulted in more than 4,000 speeding tickets and nearly 300 for distracted driving–the main factors causing crashes. “We at IDOT remain committed to ensuring the protection of all workers and motorists in work zones–and we are redoubling our efforts in light of last week’s horrific events on I-55”, said acting Transportation Secretary Erica Borggren in a press release.
Lead to Push for Truck Toll Bridge in Joliet
In related news, Joliet District 2 Councilman, Bob O’Dekirk is calling for an expedited plan to build a proposed truck bypass bridge from CenterPoint to Interstate 80 at Houbolt Road. According to O’Dekirk, “These types of accidents and numerous rollovers on both I-55 and I-80 won’t stop until we solve the truck congestion problem plaguing Joliet and the surrounding area. O’Dekirk would like to move a proposed project forward that has private financing and would not cost the city. Last fall, O’Dekirk was contacted by several union officials who shared a preliminary plan for a truck toll bridge from the CenterPoint intermodal to the interstate. “While this plan has languished, the area around CenterPoint Intermodal has continued to be plagued by numerous traffic accidents involving trucks accessing the facility causing numerous fatalities”, said O’Dekirk.
No doubt, things need to change in order to reduce these tragic, preventable crashes. However, it would seem there is not just “One” answer to the problem. Additional routes and detours to address some of the congestion is great as well as improved roadways. Road construction takes time including building of new roads and repair of existing roads. In the latest truck collisions, road construction may have contributed to the congestion, however, in a number of the crashes trucks were traveling at excessive speeds and in some cases, the drivers were driving past their hours-of-service requirements. IDOT and safety organizations can only do so much in regard to stepping up patrol and use of signage. When drivers operate large trucks while fatigued and fail to slow down in congested areas, crashes will occur.
If You Have Been in an Illinois Motor Vehicle Crash
If you have been injured in an Illinois truck crash, you will need an expert truck accident attorney. Our attorneys know the trucking regulations that all truck drivers must follow as well as trucking companies. If you have been injured or one of your loved ones was injured or killed, you need legal advice right away. An expert crash attorney can assist in the process of investigation, preservation of evidence, as well as many other tasks including expert investigators. We are available seven days a week and consultations are always free, (314) 276-1681