BRADLEY — As CSL Behring waits for approval for its traffic signal along Illinois Route 50, a company official clued area officials as to what is coming to this area as a result.
Carmagedon. That’s the word CSL site project manager Chris Abell used to describe the traffic congestion the area will face.
“Carmagedon is coming. I don’t know what else to call it,” he said.
CSL Behring is in the early phases of a 1.8 million-square-foot expansion which will easily require an investment far north of $1 billion.
Although employment projections have not been publicized yet, there is speculation it could come close to doubling the existing 1,600-member workforce.
The Australian-based pharmaceutical company has not asked for a penny of financial assistance or tax breaks from any governmental body.
It has made one seemingly simple request. This request was made 16 months ago, and as of this week, it still has not been satisfied.
CSL wants a traffic light put at its pending new entrance at the intersection at the Lowe’s Hardware store. The company has told the Illinois Department of Transportation it will pay for the stoplight.
Incredibly, a state thirsting for manufacturing development has yet to OK what seems to be a simple request.
At the first-ever RESearch Kankakee County forum held Thursday in the former Sears store in the Northfield Square mall, Abell, head of CSL’s project management office, said his frustration grows with each passing week.
Abell said CSL is making the largest investment anywhere in the state and perhaps beyond and yet, their request cannot be resolved.
“We can’t get a three-way light to become a four-way light.”
He later added:
“This is community supported. It is noncontroversial. How does this take so long?” he asked.
Abell said CSL leadership recently visited the site, and they also were questioned why the light was not already in place.
“This is embarrassing,” he said. He said if this were New York and almost any other state, and a company was making an investment like this, it would only be a matter of a couple weeks for this to be granted.
“Is it worth someone’s time to advocate for us?” he asked.
Kankakee County Board Chairman Andy Wheeler said he’s been calling IDOT in Springfield, local state political leaders and anyone else he can think of to get the situation rectified.
“This is unbelievable. This is the largest manufacturing investment in the state. All that’s needed is a permit. The state of Illinois needs to get up and do this. It’s frustrating,” he said. “I don’t get it. This is not that hard.”
At least it shouldn’t be.
The company is developing a second entrance/exit at the plant. The current entrance is near the intersection of Route 50 and Armour Road. The intersection is the most congested in the metro area and becomes a traffic nightmare at many points during the day.
Wheeler also noted he is working to get the intersection project on the state’s project list.
The Kankakee Area Transportation Study Metropolitan Planning Organization recently moved this intersection to the top of their preferred project list, in large part to aid the expanding manufacturing plant.