Information for Local Communities:
The GLBT's privately funded Great Lakes Basin Railroad (GLBR) project will meet the future transportation needs of the Midwest region and the entire nation. Chicago is the largest freight rail hub in the world. The growth predictions for rail traffic in the region exceed capacity of the existing rail lines entering Chicago. Currently a load of freight can make its way from Los Angeles to Chicago in 48 hours, then take 30 hours just to travel across the city. Studies show that an estimated 25% of rail traffic moving through Chicago does not originate or terminate there, entering the city just to be switched and transferred from one railroad to another. It is not practical to build new rail lines through Chicago due to population density and alternative land use. Our goal is to ease the rail industry's dependency on Chicago by offering a safe and effective alternative to expedite freight movement across our country.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How did you choose the proposed route?
As we developed the concept for the GLBR we wanted to take into account safety, capacity, reliability, velocity, environment, and supporting the growth of the region.
In order to achieve this, we want to by-pass population centers, have the capacity for future growth, support agricultural and industry around the route, avoid attracting more residences or businesses along the railroad that would limit expansion or be exposed in case of an incident, keep vehicle traffic flowing through overpasses/underpasses, and to build the railroad as a quiet zone so grade crossings are better protected and train whistles would only be blown in an emergency.
We have also planned the route around known wetland areas, cemeteries, protected natural areas, and shorter crossings of major rivers. It is important to remember that the route is subject to change based upon the further findings of the STB and EIS reports that are expected take two years to complete.
Why does your proposed route avoid towns and populated areas?
Avoiding populated areas allows us to move trains at higher speeds throughout the region and limit noise pollution. We want to build the railroad as a quiet zone so grade crossings are better protected and we would not have to blow the train whistle except in an emergency. This also allows us to avoid any residential and business development that could block capacity for future growth.
How many tracks will the railroad have?
From Pinola, IN to around Sollitt, IL, GLBR will have two main tracks. The next 13 miles will have three main tracks. From there GLBR will have two main tracks to a point north of Rochelle, IL. From there, the line will have a single main track and appropriately spaced
sidings for meeting and passing trains to Milton, WI. The line from Kingsbury, IN to Westville, IN will have one main track.
Why doesn't the route follow existing property lines?
The route GLBR presented for consideration was designed to meet our operating goal of operating trains up to 70 mph in order to speed shipments to customers. To accomplish that, we made the curves broad and the gradients gradual. Also following an environmental review of the region, we routed the railroad around known wetland areas, cemeteries, and protected natural areas, and chose the shortest practical crossings of major rivers.
Why aren't you using defunct railroads and pre-existing tracks?
Utilizing abandoned 19th Century roadbeds would route the railroad through population centers, which GLBR wants to avoid. That said, the project does propose laying a portion of the Kingsbury Subdivision on an abandoned railroad right of way, outside of towns formerly served by this route.
How will this help the agricultural communities?
GLBR delivers the ability to source fertilizers, chemicals, and implement transportation to support the agricultural communities from six class one railroads into the region. At the same time, grain elevator operations can move commodities to all of interior North America and its ports.
Will you pay fair prices for land?
These are the three principles of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad’s Route Acquisition Policy:
1. The dollar price per acre for property acquired for railroad right-of-way is $20,000. This price will be paid for fee simple title, free and clear, with all title exceptions and material environmental impairments removed or remediated, and will include all subsurface rights (including mineral rights).
2. Each parcel along the Right-Of-Way will have “Local Rail Access.”
Defined as: If the current or future owner of property adjoining GLBR’s railroad right-of-way decides to build an industrial, agricultural or warehousing facility next to the railroad and desires to ship by rail or build a rail spur to serve industries on other properties, GLBR will negotiate an agreement permitting the owner to do so.
Under that agreement, the property owner will pay for the switch to connect with the GLBR, cost of signal modifications, and cost of trackage into the owner’s facility.
GLBR will transport shipments to and from each industry track in accordance with its obligations as a common carrier by rail. Shipments will be subject to charges in accordance with GLBR’s tariffs or rate circulars, or transportation contracts.
3. Each residential property owner who sells property to GLBR will be provided free residential electricity for that owner’s house for so long as title to the property on which the house sits remains in the original property owner’s immediate family (any combination of owner, spouse, children or spouses of children). The free residential electricity will be limited to one family residence per seller, which must be located on a land parcel adjoining the railroad right-of-way. You will keep the current utility provider and service for your residence, and the monthly electric bill will be paid automatically by GLBR.
If the railroad goes through the middle of my land how will I have access?
GLBR will provide a private crossing, wide enough for farm equipment to cross between fields. For farm operations with livestock, GLBR will work with land owners to provide custom and safe solutions to move animals where the railroad blocks access.
What if my farm has drain tiles and/or an irrigation system?
GLBR will work with each land owner and drainage districts to develop a mitigation plan to manage the flow of water in the drain tile field. For a farm having an irrigation system GLBR will work with the land owner to adjust the irrigation system to cover the remaining portion of the farm parcel that was previously irrigated. GLBR will pay for the cost to engineer and modify the system as required to meet the needs of each parcel and drainage district. Water is just as important to manage for railroad construction and operations as it is for farm operations in this region.
Have you begun acquiring land?
GLBT has not acquired any land at this time and will not until the EIS process is complete, which will not be for approximately two years.
Please explain the free residential electricity proposal.
GLBR will pay for residential electricity consumed by landowners who convey property for the right of way on the terms outlined in the route acquisition policy. You will keep the current utility provider and service for your residence, and the monthly electric bill will be paid automatically by GLBR.
How will the railroad deal with hazardous material and hazardous waste releases?
GLBR will be an entirely new railroad operating over new rails, ties and bridges and will be committed to safe operation in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. That said, we cannot promise there will never be a release along the property. If that happens, GLBR will call qualified environmental contractors with trained personnel and equipment to respond to hazardous material incidents. GLBR also will provide hazardous release response training to first responders along our route.
On the EIS website www.greatlakesbasinraileis.com there is a link to a document called "Applicants GLBT Route and Points of Interchange Information that describes the initial route, location of road overpasses, grade road crossings, and proposed roads to be stubbed at particular points on the railroad. Are these the only points on the railroad where this will occur?
This is GLBT's initial proposal for the railroad. It will change as the route reaches its final alignment, as we hear from the communities affected by the route, and as we discuss with the county governments about traffic flows for emergency vehicles, school bus routes, impacts from train flows, and growth potential for the area. GLBT will work with the counties to insure we are not impeding traffic flows now and in the future and be open to adding more overpasses.
What if the private funding fails? Will taxpayers have to bail the project out?
No, GLBR is entirely funded by private investment. No level of government has any financial responsibility to complete the line.
(Most Recent Listed First)
The STB reviewed the application and has asked for two responses, one due by June 9, 2017 which was filed on time and the second response will be filed on June 22, 2017.
Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc. has filed its formal application with the Surface Transportation Board to construct and operate a railroad line in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Filed May 1, 2017.
Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc. initial filing with the Surface Transportation Board (Board) was to construct and operate an approximately 278-mile rail line. The Board's Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze the potential environmental impacts of the proposed rail line. Filed March 7, 2016.
The OEA will hold public meetings in the project area and one public meeting online. Interested parties will have opportunities to learn more about the project and provide comments. GLBR does not participate in these meetings and is not responsible for the EIS project website, any questions should be directed to the OEA. Completed end of April 2016 and the Public Comment Period ended on June 15, 2016 with about 3,600 comments filed.
The OEA sent an Information Request number 1 to GLBR on July 5, 2016 for an analysis of alternative routes and GLBR filed the answers with the OEA on September 20, 2016. A new preferred route was supplied to the OEA which shortened the railroad to 260 miles. The information is on the EIS website and the link is listed below. Filed September 20, 2016 posted by EIS September 22, 2016.
The OEA sent an Information Request number 2 to GLBR on September 9, 2016 for an estimate on the number of trains that will be operated over the line. Filed November 10, 2016.
The OEA sent an Information Request number 3 to GLBR on October 11, 2016 concerning travel times, necessary access points, and connections. Filed November 30, 2016.
The EIS project website can be found at http://greatlakesbasinraileis.com/index.html.