Rail line project rejected

MENDOTA – A decision to reject an application from the Great Lakes Basin Rail Line was handed down by the Surface Transportation Board on Aug. 31. The reason given by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) was due to the application being incomplete.

Specifically, the STB noted that the application did not have accurate, reliable financial information. In addition, GLBT listed assets of $151, which “are so clearly deficient for purposes of constructing a 261-mile rail line that the Board will not proceed with this application given the impacts on stakeholders and the demands upon Board resources.”

With the rejection of the application, the STB also discontinued the environmental review process associated with the project.

The proposed rail line was to carry freight from eastern Indiana, through Illinois and then north into Wisconsin as a bypass around Chicago. The route went through six Illinois counties including the northeast corner of LaSalle County, where it passed within a mile of Earlville.

The rejection of GLBT’s application was welcome news for opposition groups across the three states on the proposed route. The rail line was also opposed by organizations such as the Illinois Farm Bureau. In a statement from IFB President Richard Guebert, Jr., he said, “We’re extremely pleased to see the Surface Transportation Board today reject Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s application to construct and operate a rail line through Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

“Despite evidence showing the rail line unnecessary, the proposed 261-mile project would have cut through prime Illinois farmland, disturbing nearly 5,000 acres for the rail line and another 14,700 acres for the railport in Manteno.

“We’re happy to see that the Surface Transportation Board concurred with our written objections when they found Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s application to be incomplete and the company’s assets insufficient to complete such a project.”

The IFB also expressed their appreciation to Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Robin Kelly, Rep. Adam Kinzinger and the other state and local officials who opposed the project. In a written statement, Kinzinger said he had received hundreds of calls, emails and letters from people concerned with the construction of the rail line and the potential impact it would have on their lives, homes and lands. “I stand with my constituents in rejecting the demand, need and financial viability of this project,” he continued. “Additionally, this expansive route would run through IL-16 communities and would be severely detrimental to farmland across northern Illinois. The costs to our farmland outweigh any benefit from this proposed project. Again, I’m pleased by the STB decision today, and encourage all rail stakeholders to work on improving our infrastructure and efficiency within the existing network.”

Also responding to the decision was Rep. Tom Demmer, who said he had urged the STB to carefully review the application. Following the STB’s decision last week, Demmer said he was “very pleased” at the outcome given what was known about the project.


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