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Local News

Farm Bureau opposed to Great Lakes Basin Railroad

This map shows the preferred for the Daniel Burnham Expressway, which would run alongside the Great Lakes Basin Railroad and replace the Illiana toll road.
This map shows the preferred for the Daniel Burnham Expressway, which would run alongside the Great Lakes Basin Railroad and replace the Illiana toll road.

The Illinois Farm Bureau announced in a press release Friday that its board of directors voted to oppose the construction of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad.

Great Lakes Basin Transportation filed an application May 1 with the Surface Transportation Board to approve the 261-mile-long railroad along with a toll road that would run from Milton, Wisconsin, to La Porte, Indiana.

The application has a map of a “preferred route” that runs through Grundy County and then to the Will and Kankakee county border starting close to I-57. The highway would run closely along the railroad starting from I-80. The bureau said the projects, both of which are privately funded, would run through hundreds of miles of Illinois farmland.

“Like the county farm bureaus affected by the project, we are concerned about the impact of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad on private property rights and the potential loss of farmland,” Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. said in the release.

The decision to oppose the project came after county farm bureaus sent letters and tried to contact bureau leadership expressing their concerns about private property rights and the potential loss of farmland.

The Illinois Farm Bureau filed a request for an extension of time for public comments about the project. The Bureau said it will file comments opposing the project and it urges its members to do the same.

“Our goal is to facilitate economic growth with minimal effects on the environment and local residents,” The Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc. website states about the project. “While the new railroad will occupy land that currently is devoted to agricultural and other uses, we intend to avoid settled areas and minimize the railroad’s impact on the way area residents live their lives today.”

The GLBT website also states it anticipates acquiring no property for the project until the environmental review process is completed and the Surface Transportation Board authorizes construction.

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