Pritzker Announces Next Phase Of Houbolt Road Project In Joliet

By Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

January 20, 2022

JOLIET, IL — Gov. J. B. Pritzker announced Thursday the next phase of construction on the new Houbolt Road bridge and interchange which is part of Pritzker’s $1.2 billion commitment to improve and modernize Interstate 80 through the bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital program.

“The next phase of I-80’s modernization begins today at Houbolt Road, giving new life to one the interstate’s most critical interchanges and a key access point for Joliet.  Our state investment of $32 million right here in Joliet will help widen Houbolt Road and reconfigure its interchange into a high-capacity, diverging-diamond design. These improvements are making it safer and more efficient for truck drivers, but also for the tens of thousands of commuters and families who drive this interstate as they navigate their daily lives.” Pritzker said in a statement.

The Illinois Department of Transportation, City of Joliet, and CenterPoint Properties have partnered in a $33.5 million project to widen Houbolt Road and reconfigure its interchange with I-80. It has been reported that the State of Illinois will provide $32 million in capital funding for the project.

Illinois and partnering municipalities have leveraged a CenterPoint investment of up to $170 million to build a new tolled bridge on Houbolt Road over the Des Plaines River. The new bridge will connect I-80 and CenterPoint’s intermodal facilities.  The CenterPoint facility provides thousands of jobs and $75 billion in freight activity annually, including 65 million bushels of agricultural products exported each year.  The project is estimated to be completed by 2023.

“Under Gov. Pritzker, IDOT is leveraging public resources to advance projects across all modes throughout the state in new and exciting way.  The Houbolt Road improvements are going to bring much-needed relief to I-80 while delivering a crucial piece of the governor’s larger vision to remake one of the country’s major interstate corridors.” said Omer Osman, Illinois Transportation Secretary.

It is hoped that improving access to CenterPoint’s intermodal facilities via Houbolt Road will reduce congestion on I-80 and reduce traffic near the entrances to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie along Illinois 53.

“I’m happy to see the progress being made on the construction of the Houbolt Road Bridge.  We know, moving forward, the critical role this will play as development continues around the two intermodal ports in our region.  The public-private partnership we have forged is a model for major capital improvements moving forward.  Thank you, Governor Pritzker and our state officials, for your commitment to Joliet.”  commented Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk.

According to a press release, Rebuild Illinois, passed in 2019, will invest $33.2 billion to rebuild Illinois’ aging transportation system and promote economic improvement.  Pritzker also claims the infrastructure project is not only the largest in Illinois history, but the first to focus on all modes of transportation.

Lansing: Police Suspect Arson In Two Walmart Fires

By The Chicago Times Staff

January 8, 2022

LANSING, IL – Authorities suspect that arson played a role in two fires that happened Friday evening at a Walmart store.

According to the Lansing Fire Department, two fires started around 6:30 p.m. at a Walmart located at 17625 Torrence Ave in Lansing Illinois.  Reports indicated that there were two separate fires within the structure.  Both fires were extinguished in due course, but the Walmart store had considerable damage.  Walmart has announced that the location will be closed for further notice.

Arson investigators have determined that the two fires were an act of arson by one or two suspects.  Investigators are currently reviewing security footage.

No suspects are in custody.

DURKIN TO COMBAT ‘SMASH AND GRAB’ ROBBERIES

By Horace Douglas, The Chicago Times

January 4, 2022

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Representative Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, has proposed a bill to target the rise of “smash-and-grab” robberies.

Durkin, Minority Leader in the Illinois House of Representatives, proposed House Bill 4275 which will make organized retail theft a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison for the theft of goods valued more than $300.

According to the bill, organized theft is defined as someone conspiring with one or more people to steal merchandise with the intent of selling or returning the goods for profit.  The bill includes penalties for two or more people who receive, purchase or possess merchandise believed to be stolen.   In addition, the bill seeks to punish someone who acts as an agent of another person or group to steal merchandise or recruit, coordinate, organize, supervise, direct, manage or finance someone taking part in theft.

“Smash-and-grab retail theft has become disturbingly commonplace and these criminals are only becoming more brazen.  These crimes have many victims, from the people who own and operate these stores, to their employees and customers. We cannot let this stand. These criminals are sophisticated and organized like the street gangs that terrorize our communities and must be treated the same.” Durkin said in a statement.

WEST CHICAGO CARJACKING

By T. C. Mayfield and P. J. McNeal, The Chicago Times

January 3, 2022

WEST CHICAGO, IL – Two Chicago men have been charged for the carjacking of a West Chicago man.

Andre Turner, 19, of the 7500 block of Winchester Avenue and Tyrell Loury, 19 of the 7200 block of S. Phillips Avenue have been charged with one count of Aggravated Vehicular Hijacking with a Firearm and one count of Aggravated Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, according to the DuPage County State’s Attorney.

According to the West Chicago Police Department, on December 29, police responded to a call on Alamance Drive for a carjacking.  The victim said he was about to enter his Mercedes-Benz in an attached garage when he heard someone say, “give me your keys.” 

The victim said two masked men stood before him with one pointing a gun at his stomach.  When the victim surrendered his car, one of the masked thugs got into the driver’s seat, while the other returned to a white car parked in front of the victim’s home.

According to West Chicago police, the Chicago Police Department assisted in tracking the vehicle with helicopter surveillance.  Chicago police tracked the stolen vehicle through the south side of Chicago until it parked near 65th and King.

Turner and Loury fled the parked vehicle.  Loury was caught after a foot pursuit by police, while Turner was later arrested on December 31. There was no mention as to when the two suspects rejoined in the stolen vehicle or the whereabouts of the white vehicle.  Police later recovered a loaded Springfield XDM .45 caliber handgun in a dumpster.

According to the DuPage County State’s Attorney, Turner’s bail was set at $600,000 while Loury’s bail was set at $500,000.  Turner and Loury could face a penalty of 21 to 45 years in prison.

Both suspects are expected back in court on January 24.

Photo: Andre Turner and Tyrell Loury, DuPage County State’s Attorney

Four Suspects Arrested In Bradley Hotel Shooting That Killed Police Officer

By The Chicago Times Staff

December 31, 2021

BRADLEY, IL – Four suspects in connection with the murder and wounding of police officers at a hotel in Bradley Illinois have been arrested.

According to Bradley police, Darius D Sullivan, 25, wanted in connection to the shooting, was taken into on Friday at about 9 a.m. in Indiana.

Bradley police also released a statement that Xandia A. Harris, 26, had surrendered at the Bradley Police Department later Friday around 4 p.m. and was then turned over to the Illinois State Police.

According to Bradley police, the events of Wednesday evening’s shooting began when Bradley police Sergeant Marlene Rittmanic, 49, was shot and murdered while responding to a call of barking dogs trapped in a car located in the parking lot of the Comfort Inn located in the 1500 block of North State Highway 50.  Rittmanic’s partner, Tyler Bailey, 27, was wounded by gunfire.

When Rittmanic and Bailey interviewed the alleged owners of the car in a hotel room, the two suspects attacked and shot the two officers.  Both Rittmanic and Bailey were taken to an area hospital where Rittmanic was pronounced dead.  Officer Bailey suffered severe head injuries and is listed in critical condition.

According to police, two other suspects have been arrested in connection to the brutal shooting on Thursday.  Nichele Newton-Carroll, 43, and Jelman Sullivan, 21, have been charged with obstructing justice and leaving the state in connection to a crime.

Photo: Illinois State Police

Alleged Murderer of Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputy Captured

By The Chicago Times Staff

December 30, 2021

FAIRFIELD, IL — The suspect in the murder of a Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputy has been captured.

Ray Tate, 40, of Kentucky, allegedly hijacked a semi-truck after the murder of Deputy Sean Riley.

Tate held the driver of the semi-truck at gunpoint and demanded the driver to take him to a gas station in St. Peter’s, Missouri.  It is further alleged that Tate participated in a series of robberies and carjackings in the St. Peter’s area.

According to police, Tate returned to Illinois in a stolen vehicle with the vehicle owner held at gunpoint.  The stolen vehicle was later found at a home in Carlyle, Illinois where Tate held both the stolen vehicle owner and homeowner hostage.

Illinois State Police’s Special Weapons and Tactics team later took Tate into custody around 2 p.m. on Wednesday.  Both hostages were found unharmed.

Tate has been charged with first degree murder by the Wayne County State’s Attorney.

Photo: Illinois State Police