UPDATE: Great Lakes Basin Railroad application rejected

Published: May. 12, 2016 at 9:52 PM CDT
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Updated August 31st, 2017

UPDATE: WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) -- The Surface Transportation Board has rejected the application for the Great Lakes Basin Transportation railroad.

The decision came on August 30th because the Board found that GLBT had failed to provide accurate financial information and considers it flawed. A line item on the application for net income shows negative $1,203,545 with no explanation for why it differs from the assets, its liabilities, and stockholder’s equity. The GLBT application provided no explanation for the difference and this ultimately caused the information to be unreliable to the Board.

The GLBT’s current assets are too low for the Board to accept the application because of the impact it will have on stockholders and the Board.

UPDATE: WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) – The Great Lakes Basin Railroad plan is changing its path.

The controversial Great Lakes Basin Railroad project is taking a new turn after developers release a new route that avoids Boone County.

Boone County residents can breathe a little easier knowing their property won’t be affected by the GLB Railroad project. Instead, it will now affect farmers on the west side of Rockford, including the only two dairy farmers left in Rockford township.

Developers behind the controversial project submitted a new 260 mile route to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that would run along the west side of Rockford instead of Boone County. The rail line aims to bypass Chicago moving Cargo from Northeastern Indiana to Southern Wisconsin.

The rail line would come within 100 feet of the Wakeley’s dairy farm in west Rockford which will virtually put them out of business. The rail line will also affect another dairy farmer nearby going through 5 of his fields totaling about 400 acres.

“It’s really sad because it’s not just my husband and I or the neighbor. This area, there's actually, we have a younger generation that wants to come back and farm and that opportunity may be taken away from them because of this,” says Tammy Wakeley.

Jim Wilson, the Vice Chairman of Great Lakes Basin Transportation says it’s up to the Surface Transportation Board to decide on open comment and scoping sessions.

The farmers found out about the new proposed route Thursday when the route was announced. Both famers say they feel that they have not been given the opportunity to voice their concerns, so they are working to reach out to the Surface Transportation Board and they will go from there.


Updated: September 22, 2016

STATELINE, Ill./Wis. (WIFR) – The railroad that has plans to bypass Chicago’s busy rail lines by passing through the Stateline has released a new route proposal.

The new proposed route released by Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc. (GLBT) would pass through Rock, Winnebago, Ogle, and Lee Counties but does not go through Boone County as other previous versions did. This comes after multiple Boone County residents expressed their concerns at public meetings earlier this year about the rail line being built in some of their backyards.

To see a map of the new proposed route, please click on the attached related link.

This is a developing story and we will continue to update you as we learn more.


UPDATED: August 29, 2016

BOONE COUNTY, Ill (WIFR) -- The Great Lakes Basin Railroad received an extension, until September 20, to decide it's final route -- Monday had been the deadline. The filing comes following lengthy feedback founder Frank Patton said he received at multiple community forums, and Patton says he wants to consider all of the options as thoroughly as possible.

"One of my grandfathers was a farmer his entire life," Patton said. "What we're offering that farmer, we're paying him what we think is two-to-three times the market value. It could give his children and grandchildren opportunities they don't already have."

Patton also told 23 News that some farmers may be given local rail access to ship their product, which could help de-congest many Stateline interstates as well as highways.


UPDATED: May 18, 2016

BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) -- Another county is hoping to climb aboard the fight against one of the largest new railroad projects in more than a century, however, the idea might de-rail before it even gets moving.

"The Boone County Board and its community are OPPOSED to the Wisconsin subdivision of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad." - less than 20 words that took Boone County lawmakers over an hour to write in a meeting that some residents described as a "circus or TV sit-com."

"I thought it was going to be a resolution," frowned resident Laurie Bozeman. "That is what the other counties have written, that's what they've called it; I don't see why we can't do the same."

The county's letter to the transportation board appeared to be more than confusing for even some board members by the time all was said and done at Wednesday night's meeting. Dozens like Bozeman were very negatively vocal, even during the meeting about the process. Rock County made it known the it would like to partner with Boone County in the fight and develop an alternative analysis plan. Rock County says having high speed rails connect with the slower ones already in Southern Wisconsin would be a disaster.

"An analogy would be an 8-lane highway onto a gravel road," Alan Sweeney said.

Residents responded saying they don't want to hear about alternatives, they just don't want it. However, they will consider options on usable rails already in place.

" BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) -- Folks in Boone county continue to make their voices heard in their opposition of the Great Lakes Basin railroad going through their area.

Neighbors and county board members debated for nearly two hours during the Boone County Board Retreat on all the feedback they should send to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board by the June 15 deadline. The county board decided to draw up a statement, making their opposition clear, as well as offering alternate routes for the project. Chairman Bob Walberg say he wants the transportation board to be aware of the negative impact the railroad would have on farmers and public safety.

"We're an agriculture community. We have areas that we want to maintain for agriculture. Parts we want to develop. That's the environment that we're trying to transplant. We're also trying to transplant that we have a lot of citizens that are very opposed to this. That is part of our environment," says Walberg.

The written statement will be up for approval at the county board meeting next Wednesday.