Aggregates Giant Settles Road-Damage Suit With Illinois DOT
Birmingham, Ala.-based Vulcan Materials Co. has agreed to pay the Illinois Dept. of Transportation $40 million to settle a 2001 lawsuit contending the aggregates producer damaged a former major artery that bisects an operating company quarry in McCook, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. The road has been closed for more than a decade after it shifted suddenly.
The suit contended that Vulcan, the largest construction aggregate supplier in the country, caused the damage by mining too close to the ridge that supports Joliet Road, compromising the road’s rock foundation. Vulcan countered that cracks in the century-old limestone quarry that caused the road to dip and buckle are much deeper than the company had mined, and that the damage could have been related to a 1998 earthquake.
Since the closure of the 0.9-mile stretch of road, the state has had to reroute traffic. It sued after Vulcan did not agree to mining setbacks and land contributions. The May 17 settlement ended three weeks of negotiations in Cook County Circuit Court. Vulcan did not admit liability but agreed to pay half the $40 million immediately and the balance within nine months, as its insurers pay claims, according to the company.
“We’re very pleased to put this ongoing issue behind us after 12 years,” says Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “Now that this has been resolved, we’ll work with the communities in the area to ensure that roadway improvements near the closure will reflect the needs of residents and motorists living or working there.”
Presiding Judge Henry R. Simmons Jr. termed the agreement “both fair and reasonable.”
IDOT engineers will study whether the road can be re-opened, which is considered unlikely, but the agency is expected to use the funds for other needed road improvements.