County Board says no to proposed railroad projectPosted: Friday, Nov 18th, 2016
BY: JENNIFER SIMMONS
OREGON — In a 23-1 vote Tuesday night, Ogle County Board members voted to pass a resolution that urges the Surface Transportation Board to pursue a "no-action alternative" of denying the petition or application of the proposed Great Lakes Basin Railroad project.
The resolution passed highlights the effects the proposed railroad project would have on Ogle County – including specific negative effects to townships of Scott, White Rock, Lynnville, Dement and Flagg.
Village of Davis Junction Trustee William Luchsinger spoke to the board about his concern over the proposed railroad project and its impact on his community.
“Due to the change in the route, the railroad will now go ¼-mile of the current north/south railroad [in the village] and would be detrimental to our entire village,” Luchsinger said. “The effects on a proposed subdivision and plans for a restaurant/gas station already in place would be detrimental.”
The village has had to put all development plans on hold because of the proposed re-route of the railroad.
Luchsinger added that the proposal would bring an estimated 85 to 100 trains per day with 100 or more cars using the new tracks.
“[We’d see] a train every 13 minutes…. It’s a detriment to our village,” he said.
The negative impacts would include environmental, agricultural and safety to members of the community.
In a report prepared by the Ogle County Planning and Zoning Department and presented to county board members, details of the proposed railroad were outlined, including impacts on communities throughout Ogle County.
Impact on Natural Resources
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has designated and mapped floodplains, or Special Flood Hazard Areas within Ogle County. Encroachment on floodplains by development, such as structures and fill, reduces the flood-carrying capacity, increases the flood heights and velocities, and increases flood hazards in areas beyond the encroachment itself.
The proposed GLBRR will cross several mapped Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), including the following:
> Ryly Ditch SFHA in Section 28 Dement Township (Flood zone AE);
> Creston Ditch SFHA in Section 21 Dement Township (Flood zone AE);
> Kilbuck Creek tributary in Section 5, 8 and 9 Dement Township (Flood zoned A).
In addition, the proposed GLBRR will cross seven other small streams that have not been mapped as having a SFHA, but may experience occasional flood events
Wetlands are important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people and for fish and wildlife. Some of these services, or functions, include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods. These valuable functions are the result of the unique natural characteristics of wetlands.
The proposed GLBRR crosses two mapped wetlands in Ogle County:
> Freshwater emergent wetland in Section 36 White Rock Township;
> Freshwater emergent wetland in Section 2 White Rock Township.
• Impact on Transportation Systems
The new preferred route for the GLBRR will cross 18 public roadways and one private roadway in Ogle County. The letter from Frank Patton, Chairman of Great Lakes Basin
Transportation, Inc. (GLBT) to Kim Gouker dated Nov. 4, states that GLBT is planning multiple overpasses for major roads as well as utilizing quiet zone at-grade crossings where possible. However, it is uncertain at this time what type of crossing (if any) is proposed for the various locations.
The following is a listing of the roadways currently planned to be crossed in Ogle County (in order from south to north).
1) Ritchie Road (Dement Township) - Serves as an access point to the south end of the Rochelle Dual Rail Industrial Park. High probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
2) Interstate 88 (Illinois Tollway) - Mandatory grade separation (bridge).
3) Creston Road (City of Rochelle) - Serves as connection between Rochelle and Creston. Also access to Rochelle landfill with a high probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
4) IL Route 38 - East/West running state route from Dixon to Chicago suburbs. This location is likely to have a grade separation (bridge) but may be an at-grade crossing.
5) Twombly Road (Dement Township) - Rural road with access to both sides of I-39 with a high probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
6) Interstate 39 - Mandatory grade separation (bridge).
7) Lind Road (Dement Township) - Rural road connecting IL Route 251 to Lynnville Road. This site could have an at-grade crossing or may be petitioned for closure.
8) IL Route 251 (IDOT) - North/South running state route connecting Mendota to Beloit, Wis. This location is likely to have a grade separation (bridge) but may be an at-grade crossing.
9) Bethel Road (Village of Hillcrest) - Rural village road that access both sides of I-39. There is a high probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
10) Kent Road (White Rock Township) - Rural north/south road approximately 1.5 miles long. At-grade crossing, or may be petitioned for road closure.
11) IL Route 64 (IDOT) - East/West running state route connecting Savanna to Chicago. Likely to have a grade separation (bridge), but may be an at-grade crossing.
12) Mowers Road (White Rock Township) - East/West running rural road connecting White Rock Road to Malta Road in DeKalb County with access to both sides of I-39 and adjacent to and parallel to Illinois Railnet tracks. An at-grade crossing, or may be petitioned for road closure.
13) Dutch Road (White Rock Township) - East/West running rural road connecting Church Road to IL Route 251 that runs adjacent to and parallel to Illinois Railnet tracks. At-grade crossing, or may be petitioned for road closure.
14) Lindenwood Road (White Rock Township) - East/West running rural road connecting Stillman Road to DeKalb County with access to both sides of I-39 and adjacent to and parallel to Illinois Railnet tracks. High probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
15) Holcomb Road (Ogle County) - East/West running rural road connecting German Church Road to Lindenwood with a proposed crossing located 0.5 miles east of Illinois Railnet. High probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
16) Big Mound Road (Scott Township) - East/West running rural road connecting Meridian Road to Mulford Road with access to both sides of I-39. High probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
17) IL Route 72 (IDOT) - East/West running state route connecting Lake Carroll to O’Hare. Likely to have a grade separation (bridge), but may be an at-grade crossing.
18) Scott Road (Private) - Private dirt road that connects Junction Road to Orchard Hills Landfill. Likely to be closed to through traffic.
19) Edson Road (Rockford Township) - East/West running rural road passing between two landfills with a high probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
There are currently approximately 150 railroad crossings of roads and highways in Ogle County.
The proposed GLBRR would add up to 19 new crossings – an increase of 12.7 percent. The majority of these new crossings will likely be at-grade crossings rather than grade-separated crossings (bridges).
James Milligan, an Ogle County farmer, voiced his concerns over the project stating the track would intersect through his cattle farm.
“The track would run 3/10 of a mile from my main farm and I would have to go nearly 5-miles around to feed my cattle,” Milligan said. “There’s an awful lot of good farm land not being farmed.”
Lauren Hintzsche – a resident in Lynnville Township – also had concerns of the project, specifically reminding county board members how others have voted against the project.
“On June 13 the Rochelle City Council did pass a resolution against the railroad even though the city could benefit from the project,” she said.
Following public comment, county board members voiced their concerns as well.
“I don’t see any advantage to this in our county,” Bill Welty (Dist. 2) said. “Trains could be carrying hazardous materials close to our schools [in some instances].”
“This project is effecting neighbors, roads, townships and cutting off several roads [in our county],” Nick Bolin (Dist. 1) said. “I find this unacceptable and am voting no.”
“There are so many unknowns and they want us in the dark,” Tom Smith, White Rock Township supervisor said.
Smith added that school buses, emergency services and law enforcement would all be slowed or re-routed by trains passing through the township on new tracks.
Board member Ron Colson cast the only vote against the resolution.
“We really don’t know what we’re dealing with,” Colson said. “There’s already been two plans –there could be four or five. We don’t know.”
For the complete article see the 11-21-2016 issue.