WILL COUNTY, ILLINOIS
The newest and largest port near Chicago opened for business on March 31. The Port of Will County, located 45 miles from downtown Chicago, is a private partnership headed by Gerard Keating, and is located on 257 acres along the Des Plaines River Mile at 284.5.
“We have been operating well,” said Keating, “Since our opening date, we have already secured a contract for 400,000 tons of sand to offload. Everything has been going beyond our expectations for the past two weeks.”
The port’s location is on what used to be an industrial manufacturing facility. Keating said that site had been closed for 13 years. After examining the property and its potential, the decision was made to buy it and redevelop it.
“It was attractive because of its location,” he said. “It is located at the intersection of I-90 and I-55, the crossroads of the U.S. The shear size of the land lent itself well for a port. It was also already permitted to be aport. So I’d say location number one, fully permitted number two and the fact that the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and Canadian National Railroad service the area as the third reason to develop the site as a port. It is truly an intermodal facility with the best location in Chicago.”
Business at the port has concentrated on transloading product from the Gulf of Mexico, primarily steel and aggregate products, from downstate Illinois and St. Louis. He said the port is also speaking with Osprey Line about the possibility of being involved with container-on-barge business by unloading containers.
“We want to focus on steel, steel containers, and lumber,” he said. “We think there is a large market for those products. Will County is the fastest growing county in Illinois and the 10th fastest growing in the U.S. There is a strong demand to serve the market.”
The port boasts two 125 ton cranes and 64,000 square feet of warehouse on 117 fenced and secured acres. There is 35,000 tons of vertical storage ideal for cement, fly ash and other products.
A number of marine companies operate in the area, so Keating said they will handle harbor and fleeting responsibilities. Garvey Marine, St. Charles, Illinois, is handling boat movements and Boat Docks, Peru, Illinois is handling stevedoring.