Great Lakes Basin Transportation — which is proposing a controversial rail line that would run through farmland across northern Kankakee County — filed its formal application with the feds in Washington.
The filing is just the next step in one of many for GLBT as it proposes an approximately 261-mile rail line that would cut through Rock County in Wisconsin, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, LaSalle, Grundy and Kankakee counties in Illinois and Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.
In a news release, Frank Patton, founder and chairman of GLBT Inc., called the filing a historic day.
"Our application explains the need for this vital project to the [surface transportation board] and the public," he said. "The Great Lakes Basin Railroad is the largest single freight railroad project proposed for the Chicago region in over a century. We look forward to working with the STB and other interested parties to move this project forward."
The proposed rail line has been met with opposition from residents in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Julie Kokos, of Grant Park, wonders when all these proposals are going to end.
"We don't get the right to choose where we live and have established businesses?" she said. "I thought this was America. It doesn't feel like it when you've got this threat hanging over you. What do you do? ... It's just wrong."
GLBT said in its filing that the purpose of the railroad is to carry rail traffic moving through Chicago without stopping there. The new railroad would interchange with six major railroads serving Chicago along with six regional railroads.
The GLBT said the proposed railroad carries a $2.8 billion price tag to construct and would be "financed entirely from private sources, excluding other rail carriers," and would be independent from any other connecting railroads.
The GLBT also has not yet obtained any financing and wouldn't do so "until it receives STB authority to construct the proposed line." It said the railroad would take 24 to 36 months to construct after final STB approval and acquisition of financing and right of way.
In addition to this week's filing, GLBT also announced a "build program" that includes plans to construct the Burnham Expressway and pursue the opportunity to participate in the next round of development for the long dormant South Suburban Airport.
The highway also would be a privately funded toll road, a project that would connect with Interstates 80-94, 65, 57, 55 and 80. The expressway would follow the proposed railroad on parts of the 125-mile road and would form a 2,000-foot-wide corridor. The railroad and toll road together would cost an estimated $8 billion to construct.
"Each plot twist we hear from Mr. Patton is more absurd than the last," said Porter County (Ind.) Commissioner Laura Blaney in a story in the Post-Tribune (Merrillville, Ind.). Blaney's Porter Township property would be bisected by the train line.
The Great Lakes Basin Railroad also includes a Manteno rail port that actually lies in Sumner Township in Kankakee County between Manteno and Grant Park.