Monday, March 21, 2016

Illinois Farm Bureau’s attorney comments on Great Lakes Basis RR


By Deana Stroisch
  • IFB dispels rumors about GLB railroad

STB announces public meetings on $8 billion project

Published on: Mar 17, 2016
  • Illinois Farm Bureau Senior Counsel Laura Harmon dispelled rumors and inaccurate statements about the Great Lakes Basin (GLB) railroad, a proposed 281-mile rail line that would create a freight bypass around Chicago.

She emphasized the proposed $8 billion rail line is just that -- a proposal -- and it faces a number of hurdles, including lengthy environmental reviews. The public also will have a chance to comment.

“At this point in the process, it is premature for landowners to negotiate with GLB for any easements or allow access to their property for surveying purposes,” Harmon wrote. “GLB does not have the right to conduct surveys on landowners’ property for the proposed railroad line.”

Harmon also disagreed with GLB’s assertion that it could take property through quick-take eminent domain. The General Assembly would need to amend the law to allow it.

Investors have proposed building a railroad line from La Porte, Ind., to Milton, Wis. On its website, the group says its goal “is to facilitate economic growth with minimal effects on the environment and local residents.”

“While the new railroad will occupy land that currently is devoted to agriculture and other uses, we intend to avoid settled areas and minimize the railroad’s impact on the way area residents live their lives today,” according to the website.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) oversees railroads, and must approve a proposal to construct or operate a rail line unless it finds that activities are inconsistent with the “public convenient and necessity.”

Once it receives an application, the STB evaluates public demand and need; whether the applicant can financially undertake the project; and whether the project would be in the public’s best interest. It also will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, which can take anywhere from a few months to several years.

But GLB could seek an exemption from the detailed application process. Harmon said the project should have a full review, noting it has been described by its investors as the “largest rail project in 125 years” and none of the railroads have publicly supported the proposed project. 

GLB also included a request for 50 feet within the proposed 200 foot right-of-way for pipelines and utility lines. That request should be denied, Harmon said, because it goes beyond STB’s authority.

The public will have a chance to comment on the proposal at upcoming scoping meetings. Landowners who can’t participate may also submit written comments online. The STB will created a page devoted to the GLB project.


* April 11, 5:30-8 p.m., Manteno Sportsmen’s Club Banquet Hall, 851 North Main Street, Manteno.

* April 19, 5:30-8 p.m., Cherry Valley Fire Station #2 Hall, 4919 Blackhawk Road, Rockford.

* April 20, 5:30-8 p.m., Rochelle Township High School Auditorium, 1401 Flagg Road, Rochelle.

* April 21, 5:30-8 p.m., Seneca High School Auditorium, 307 East Scott Street, Seneca.

READ MORE: Download the file below to read STB's Notice of Intent.

Download file: NOI (Public Review Copy).pdf
Size: 545.726 KB (Kilobytes)
Created: 03/17/2016 11:43 AM
Last Modified: 03/17/2016 11:43 AM
Click here to download this file.


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