La PORTE — The La Porte County Board of Commissioners came to agreement and passed a resolution on Wednesday opposing the proposed route of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad.
Previously, the commissioners had made it clear to the developer of the proposed 278-mile railroad line that a series of conditions would have to have been met in order for the county to potentially support the project
. These conditions included having the route be as minimally invasive as possible with regard to small towns, residential areas and existing farmland by using existing right-of-way and railway instead of using greenfield sites, which is undeveloped land used for agriculture, landscape design or left to evolve naturally.
"The route hardly incorporates any existing right-of-way or using existing railway, but in fact uses extensive greenfield," said Commission Attorney Shaw Friedman, referring to the most recent proposed GLBR route.
Commission President David Decker said it was the commission's duty to take in and listen to everyone's opinion, which is why the commissioners previously heard a proposition from GLBR.
Decker, however, said until recently he'd been hoping for the greenfield sites to not be included in the the new route and for existing railways to be implemented. This was not the case.
"This particular route is not feasible for us to have," Decker said.
Commissioners Dr. Vidya Kora and Michael Bohacek agreed as the plan also didn't meet past criteria, such as having the support of a Class I railroad.
The resolution stated a Class I railroad was deemed vital as it would allow the GLBR to gain access to existing right-of-ways.
In a letter from the GLBR, however, the developer admitted to dismissing the use of former and existing right-of-ways due to being "inconsistent with the project's purpose and need."
The GLBR went on to say they are not affiliated with any rail carrier, have no right to use any existing railroad's trackage and need to control management, dispatching and maintenance of its own lines in order to provide the proposed service, which they would lose the ability to do operating on another railroad's track.
While job creation and boosting train traffic to Kingsbury Industrial Park had been the reason why the commission listened to proposed plans from the railroad, Bohacek reminded everyone he has spoken out several times on record as being skeptical of any long-term job creation which could come out of the project.
The resolution opposing the current GLBR plan will be communicated to the Surface Transportation Board.
In unrelated matters, Tony Mancuso of the La Porte County Health Department mentioned during his commissioners report that of 193 wells tested within the county, 11 came back positive for E. coli. ….