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:

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

 

The argument for the Great Lakes Basin Railroad is that it will be an economic driver for the region.  But while some are enthusiastic about its potential, some are skeptical – including the railroads that are supposed to be its major clients.    

Great Lakes Basin Railroad lawyer Mike Blaszak says the line will be a boon for the railroads using it -- and for their customers. He cites the example of fracking sand that is mined in Wisconsin.  

Great Lakes Basin Transportation / greatlakesbasin.net

Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc. was granted a pause in the environmental review process for its $8 billion project.   

The proposed Great Lakes Basin Railroad would loop from southern Wisconsin to western Indiana in order to bypass congested Chicago freight lines.   However, the route needs to be approved by the federal Surface Transportation Board in an environmental impact statement before any construction can begin.  

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Two Wisconsin lawmakers say they are looking into changing state law to prevent a proposed railroad project from forcing people to sell their land. The Great Lakes Basin Railroad would swing 261 miles through Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin in an attempt to relieve train congestion in the Chicago area.

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