SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — After last month’s deadly HAZMAT disaster in Teutopolis, there is a push at the Illinois Capitol to make roads safer.
Five people died in the crash after a tanker trunk carrying anhydrous ammonia turned over and started leaking. Now, state officials are calling for updated detour information on GPS maps, and preventing the closure of two parallel routes for construction to happen at the same time.
They said the construction on the I-70 corridor has been a mess and has led to multiple crashes, rerouting vehicles to other roads like Route 40.
State Senator Chapin Rose and Representative Adam Neimerg are pushing for bills to fix the problem. It would require GPS navigation providers like Google and Apple Maps to have a designated person available 24/7. That person would be responsible for updating their systems to show safe detour routes. That update would be based on information from the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police.
“The detours that those semis are sent on is what’s causing all the secondary commotion, and as Representative Niemerg I think correctly said, absolutely caused what happened three weeks ago,” Rose said.
When the tanker truck crashed last month, the anhydrous ammonia leak forced evacuations in half of Teutopolis. Officials said the truck was rerouted to Route 40 because of a crash on I-70 earlier that day.
“Everybody I talked to said, ‘It was just a matter of time.’ ‘We saw this coming.’ ‘This is terrible,'” Niemerg said.
I-70 is a major route designed to handle semi trucks. Lawmakers are concerned that the navigation is rerouting those trucks to other routes not designed to handle them.
“You’re sending all these commercial trucks behind me onto a system that isn’t designed for that much traffic. You’re just begging for trouble, and unfortunately, it was found this summer,” Rose said.
Another effort they are pushing for would prohibit IDOT from putting a main road and a secondary road running in the same direction under simultaneous construction. But the bill creates exceptions in case of an emergency.
The other part of the legislation would reimburse local governments for damages done to their roads due to detours used to avoid construction zones.