Great Lakes Basin files STB application

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WASHINGTON — A group that wants to build the Great Lakes Basin Railroad, a new belt line around Chicago, filed their application on Monday with the Surface Transportation Board.

The much-anticipated and widely opposed railroad's application was filed on an April 30 deadline the STB gave Great Lakes.

Great Lakes officials propose a 244-mile line from Rock County, Wis., to Porter County, Ind.

Included in the proposal are 17 miles of branch line, a toll highway that parallels the route, and a new international airport south of downtown Chicago. A map of the proposed line shows 26 interchange points with Class I and regional railroads.

The estimated cost is $2.8 billion, with financing entirely from private sources. The proposal says the line could be completed by 2021, and would be operating profitably within two years of opening.

Great Lakes “would help alleviate endemic rail traffic delays and congestion in the Chicago area by providing a new railroad linking every major rail line that enters the city,” company officials write in their filing. Transit times through Chicago could be reduced from 30 hours to eight hours, with an estimated 45 to 72 trains a day. The railroad also would add capacity to accommodate an 80 percent to 90 percent growth in traffic by 2040.

“The rail network serving Chicago hasn't had any significant additions since 1907,” Great Lakes officials write. “Despite continued investment by the carriers, shared in recent years by the public by the CREATE program, that network remains much the same today.”

Virtually every foot of the proposed rail line faces opposition from community groups. Word of the Great Lakes filing spread quickly through social media channels.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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