Saturday, October 1, 2016

Rail opposition builds in Winnebago County


Against the new route

Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News

Against the new route

Jerri Noller feeds some of her Angus cattle. The newly-amended proposed route for the Great Lakes Basin Transportation (GLBT) rail line would cut through her property at 5892 Shirland Road. Noller is planning a meeting for Oct. 3 in Rockton to organize people to oppose the rail.

Posted: Friday, September 30, 2016 4:00 pm

By HILLARY GAVAN Senior staff writer |

ROCKTON — With the Great Lakes Basin Transportation (GLBT)’s proposed rail route now planned to go through Winnebago County, residents are clamoring to organize and find a way to stop it.

Jerri Noller said she will be hosting a meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3 at the Rockton Township Municipal Building, 1315 N. Blackhawk Boulevard.

“We are trying to get ourselves organized and figure out what direction we are going to go and how we are going to do this,” Noller said.

Noller said she’s reached out to the Boone County group in hopes of getting advice on how to proceed.

Noller said the newly-amended route would cut through her cattle field on Shirland Road. The land purchased in the late 1980s has been a bit of a paradise for the Nollers, which they would be sad to let go through eminent domain if the rail is approved.

“We worked hard for what we have,” she said. “We moved out here for the peace and serenity.”

Noller said the peace in the scenic countryside would come to an end as she wouldn’t be able to raise cattle anymore and her neighbors would see their property values plummet.

“Land values will go in the toilet,” she said.

With high-speed rail, Noller explained there will be trains coming through almost constantly with intervals of only 15 minutes between trains. With Nygren wetlands nearby, she worries the area could be vulnerable to any potential chemical spills. Because of a film of oil and residue which forms near railways, she said it could make farming difficult.

She also noted Meridian Road is home to the largest aquifer in Winnebago County which could be susceptible to contamination in the event of a toxic spill.

Brock McWilliams, group leader for the newly formed Winnebago County Against GLB, said the upcoming meeting will feature petitions and is hoped to create a base which will disseminate signage.

McWilliams said he’s hoping the other anti-rail groups will attend and advise the newest group how to move forward. McWilliams said he posted a Facebook group on Tuesday evening to distribute information on opposing the rail in Winnebago County.

In Winnebago County, McWilliams said the rail will cut through wetlands, multiple farms, wildlife sanctuaries and be within a quarter mile of public lands and forest preserves.

“We have an area that has been unblighted by the economy. Why would you sacrifice an area which maintained its value and put a railroad through it?” McWilliams asked.

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