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The Great Lakes Basin Railroad (GLBR) was conceived in 2009 as a way to alleviate rail freight congestion through the Chicago rail yards and provide other benefits to manufacturers and freight companies and to their customers.00000179-e1ff-d2b2-a3fb-ffffd78a0000It progressed from concept to serious plans over the next several years and, in March 2016, the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) gave notice that it would prepare an environmental impact statement on the proposed route and scheduled 10 public hearings.Those hearings uncovered controversy in many areas along the originally proposed route and its subsequent variations as affected residents and others protested what they saw as negative aspects of GLBR.With the recent request by Great Lakes Basin Transportation, parent company of GLBR, to pause the STB environmental study, WNIJ News determined that an update in the status is due.This five-part series, which began Monday, Dec. 12, looks at the following aspects of the GLBR project:Part One: What is the Great Lakes Basin Railroad? WNIJ's Jenna Dooley and Susan Stephens discuss the project and its plans.Part Two: What does the GLBR project mean for the environment? WNIJ's Jenna Dooley explores the possible environmental impact of the proposed route.Part Three: How will the GLBR acquire land for the proposed route? WNIJ's Chase Cavanaugh explains the options available to the railroad for getting the property it will need.Part Four: How do affected landowners feel about the GLBR project? WNIJ's Susan Stephens talks with property owners who would be affected along the proposed route.Part Five: What could the GLBR project mean for local economies? WNIJ's Guy Stephens talked with an enthusiastic Rochelle official and Chase Cavanaugh found more ambivalence from economic planners in Rockford about the potential value of the railroad.

Illinois State Representatives Back Resolution Against Great Lakes Basin Railroad

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Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc.
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State representatives in northern Illinois recently backed a resolution opposing the Great Lakes Basin Railroad. That’s after plans for the proposed railroad were submitted to the Surface Transportation Board earlier this month.

The proposed project includes constructing and operating a private rail line between Milton, Wis., and northwestern Indiana to bypass Chicago congestion. It would pass through several northern Illinois counties. 

The project has brought up concerns about the line cutting through private homes and farmland and potential misuse of eminent domain.

The state House resolution filed last week also says some affected counties could lose more than 70 million dollars each in agricultural revenue. State representative Lindsay Parkhurst of Kankakee drafted the resolution.

“We cannot afford to lose that kind of revenue,” Parkhurst said. “We can’t replace that kind of revenue.”

Parkhurst says everyone in her district is against the railway project, and it would even disrupt emergency services.

“I just don’t see it being a win for anybody except the person that wants to have his own private railway,” she said.

Other sponsors for the bill include Brian Stewart of Freeport, John Cabello of Loves Park, David Welter of Morris and Tom Demmer of Dixon. County boards in Rock county in Wisconsin and LaSalleWinnebagoOgleLee and Grundy counties in Illinois have filed motions opposing the railroad in the last year.

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