Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Port of Chicago: woebegone but still a role to play

     Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed House Bill 1797 on Aug. 25. Unlike most bills the governor has been flinging away, this bill received no public notice whatsoever beyond an obligatory line on the Illinois General Assembly website.
     This is because the bill involves financial relief for a place little known despite its enormous size: the Port of Chicago.
     The Port of Chicago is actually two places: the Lake Calumet Terminal, a 1,600-acre shipping facility, with wharves and silos, transit sheds and warehouses. And Iroquois Landing, a 190-acre parcel at the mouth of Calumet River acquired in 1978. The Port contains the Confined Disposal Facility, a lakeside area where the Army Corps of Engineers dumped contaminated muck dredged from the bottom of rivers and, not unrelatedly, a 36-hole golf course, Harborside International, on a former waste dump.
     Consumers tend to think of shipping as something done quickly. Order a flannel shirt from Land’s End and within days it arrives on your doorstep. The rare time we give shipping a thought, we are often entertaining images of drone delivery, of sushi winging its way to diners in Iceland. That’s our future.

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  1. From the photo on the ST site, I'm glad to see that they've finally painted out Blago's & Richie Daley's name from that grain elevator.
    Blago's name was up there for at least four years after he was impeached!
    Just ridiculous!

  2. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the facility could be used more productively and take a few polluting trucks off the road. Though, I guess the Seaway has its environmental problems as well.


  3. Fascinating stuff. That ship sitting there rusting away because it's too expensive to fix or demolish seems like a depressing metaphor for American manufacturing in general.

  4. Interesting column, indeed, and swell photos, too. I've often wondered about the relative busyness of the Port, having driven by there loads of times on 94. 38th in the nation is worse than I'd have even imagined, not knowing anything about it. A couple questions. You went out there well before that bill was vetoed, right? Was this just a kinda random, "Hey, I wonder what goes on down there" column or was there a specific thing that prompted it? And do the 30 tenants keep those huge silos pretty full of stuff, or are they closer to empty, NS?

    Also, I love to nitpick, and by not having a typo in this piece (as far as I can tell), I think there's a typo. Ridiculously, the name of the Lands' End company has had the apostrophe in the wrong place since its first catalog. So, the apostrophe being in the *right* place in the column is disconcertingly not right. ; )

    1. It was an assignment. I went in mid-July, then sort of sat on it, as guy who assigned it didn't seem in a particular hurry. The veto of the bill was a coincidence.

  5. It's a little surprising that the government isn't more concerned about the port. If the country were under attack the government would seize control of it immediately. Case in point: public access to the Lockport locks on the Sanitary and Ship Canal was closed after 9/11. As far as I know the road is still closed. Also, the Coast Guard patrols the canals from the air. I had a business that was within sight of the canal, and for the 18 years that I was there, every morning a helicopter flew downstream from the lake, and every afternoon it flew back. The day after 9/11 they immediately switched to a much faster helicopter. It was a real in-your-face, we're-not-messing-around kind of message.
    So, anyway, I don't know what Rauner's problem is.

  6. This was certainly an interesting piece; well done. As far as the apostrophe in "Land's End", my father-in-law worked in sales management there for years, and I'd heard about the initial mistake in placing it. It's also explained here in this google search:


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