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Friday, 15 April 2016 11:38

Railroad informational meetings in Janesville, Belvidere, Rockford and Rochelle

Written by  CSI Media news staff
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JANESVILLE -- Public open houses are planned in Rock, Boone and Winnebago counties for residents interested in learning more about a plan to build a rail line to bypass Chicago.

(Dates and times below)

At issue is a plan by Great Lakes Basin to run a rail line from the east side of Milton in Rock County south to Boone County.

The company founder, Frank Patton, wants to build a 275-mile rail line to bypass rail traffic around Chicago.

Originally, the line was going to start between Orfordville and Brodhead, but the area presented too many environmental challenges.

The meetings will include an open house for about an hour and a presentation by the federal Office of Environmental Analysis.

If the project becomes a reality, it would mark the largest rail construction project in the United States in more than 100 years. It would cost about $6 billion and would be privately funded.

At a meeting two weeks ago in the town of Bradford, residents asked town attorney Dave Moore how much power they had to stop the project. They worried about the loss of farmland and how the rail line would change their rural landscape.

Moore said the town could pass an ordinance prohibiting such a land use, but if the project was approved at the federal level, local and state laws couldn’t stop it.

However, the project is nowhere near being approved, Moore said. First, it has to get the OK of the federal Surface Transportation Board and its Office of Environmental Analysis.

Members of Rock Against the Rail, a citizens’ group opposing the project, said residents need to contact state and federal lawmakers to let them know how they feel.

Rail opponents at the meeting suggested that the town boards of Johnstown and Clinton also might like to submit similar resolutions. Moore said he would talk to the officials involved.

State Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, attended Monday’s town board meeting and let people know that she had contacted state and federal officials.

    "I live here, too," Loudenbeck said in an interview after the meeting. "It’s something I feel is not in our best interests. It will fundamentally change things."


If you go


Great Lakes Basin rail line informational meetings

April 18, 2016, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Craig High School, 401 S. Randall St., Janesville.

April 19, 2016, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Community Building Complex of Boone County, 111 W. FIrst St., Belvidere

April 19, 2016, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Ellis Academy, 222 South Central Avenue, Rockford

April 20, 2016, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Rochelle Township High School auditorium, 401 Flagg Road, Rochelle

April 21, 2016, 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Seneca High School Auditorium located at 307 East Scott Street, Seneca



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