Great Lakes Basin Railroad Rejected; Application Information ‘Fundamentally Flawed’

Sep 4, 2017


A federal agency has rejected an application by Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc. to build a railroad through northern Illinois from Wisconsin to Indiana. 


A map of the proposed Great Lakes Basin Railroad, which was rejected Friday by the Surface Transportation Board.
Credit Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board said in its decision that the financial information provided by the backers of the proposed $8 billion Great Lakes Basin Railroad was "fundamentally flawed” and the company’s assets were “so clearly deficient” for the purpose that the board would not let it proceed.  

Howard Learner is the executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and strongly opposed the proposed railroad. He says it really did come down to finances. And the company’s assets were meager.

"$151 of net assets does not cut it," Learner said, " when it comes to building a 261-mile rail line."

Kathi Jurkowski helped organize the opposition in Illinois and Wisconsin last year. She says the STB decision lifted the stress for hundreds of residents along the proposed route.

"We're just very, very happy and thankful," Jurkowski said. "We can go to bed tonight and sleep good."

The railroad was touted as a way to bypass Chicago’s rail congestion, but aroused fierce opposition from those along the proposed route, and no support from the railroad companies it was supposed to serve.