IDOT plans to install traffic light to stop trucks from damaging veterans' graves in Elwood

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Last month, FOX 32 told you how confused truck drivers were disrupting funerals and even desecrating graves at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Will County.

And at least one outraged veterans' group talked of holding an armed protest in front of the cemetery, carrying rifles as a warning to trespassing truckers. Well now, officials hope they've found a better solution.

“I'm completely outraged that it's taken this long to get the attention of the State of Illinois,” said Elwood Police Chief Fred Hayes.

Finally, though, Hayes and other officials around the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery do have the state's attention now.

Hundreds of Illinoisans have expressed their fury at 16-wheeler semi-tractor trailers trespassing onto the cemetery. One recently desecrated veterans' graves, leaving tire tracks across them where the driver attempted a U-turn.

“The long term solution here is a reconfiguration of this intersection,” Hayes said.

A spokeswoman told FOX 32 the Illinois Department of Transportation plans to install a traffic stop light at the cemetery entrance, perhaps as soon as this summer. IDOT is also considering new signage on State Route 53 requested by the Village of Elwood. It would be aimed at the 8,000 trucks a day going in and out of nearby intermodal freight yards.

The trouble began after the entrance to a nearby facility, developed by CenterPoint Properties, was closed due to traffic safety issues. That entrance is only a few hundred yards from the cemetery's main entrance. And that's where dozens of truckers decide to go, with some blaming out of date GPS devices but all of them ignoring posted warning signs.

Shortly before FOX 32 arrived at the cemetery, yet another trucker blundered onto the premises despite a sign and others telling him to stay out. Police told FOX 32 the trucker was ticketed with multiple charges, but local veterans groups are losing their patience.

“A lot of people here were irate enough to wanna go out there with M1s and M14s to protect that cemetery and use 'em if they needed to stop these truck drivers,” said Shorewood Glen Veteran Jerry Zarembski.

FOX 32: Another truck driver went in there this morning!

“When you told me that this morning, honest to God, with all the attention this has gotten, I was amazed that it was still happening,” said Veteran Jim Lynch.

Veterans groups are also watching close the case of the trucker who drove his semi across graves at the Abraham Lincoln Cemetery. He faces multiple charges and has a court date next month.

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