GLBR: Down The Line

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.

It 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:

Great Lakes Basin Transportation / greatlakesbasin.net

A Wisconsin lawmaker has written to the federal government expressing opposition to the Great Lakes Basin Railroad.

The idea behind the $8 billion plan is to bypass freight congestion in the Chicago-area. The path would run from northwest Indiana, across northern Illinois, and into southern Wisconsin. Supporters say it will give an economic boost to the region, but some landowners near the proposed route aren’t sold.

Great Lakes Basin Transportation / greatlakesbasin.net

What’s the Great Lakes Basin Railroad and why should I care?

The GLBR is a proposed railway that, if you live in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, or northwest Indiana, you’ve either never heard of or have spent a lot of time learning about over the last year.

Under the current route proposal, the Great Lakes Basin Railroad would enter Kankakee County, Illinois, just below the Will County line, traveling west-southwest to enter Grundy County a couple of miles above its southern boundary.

Susan Stephens

AMC's Hell on Wheels is a fictionalized version of the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad across the Wild West in the 1860s.

The show draws much of its drama from a greedy tycoon who encourages workers to weave and wind tracks every which way to maximize profit—with little regard for the land.

Upon seeing a blueprint, self-proclaimed "villain" Thomas Durant laments, "Why have you made my road so straight?"

That is not so easy to get away with these days. 

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