KINGSBURY, Ind. — A federal agency has rejected a plan to construct a freight railroad from northern Indiana to southeastern Wisconsin.
The Surface Transportation Board said Wednesday that the Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s application doesn’t provide enough monetary information and that the group lacks financial backing. The board said it can’t proceed with the project because of the impact it would have on stakeholders and on board resources.
The group proposed building more than 260 miles of track with 26 connections to other existing railroads in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. The line would be able to support as many as 110 trains a day, according to the application. Construction was expected to cost $2.8 billion.
Great Lakes founder Frank Patton said it would take trucks off local highways and relieve railroad congestion in Chicago.
“A freight train can take 30 hours — more during periods of severe weather — to pass through the Chicago area,” the application said.
That can result in addition costs for shippers, additional air pollution, delayed passenger trains and billions of dollars wasted in productivity, the application said. Adding another line would give trains an option to bypass congestion in the area, Great Lakes officials said.
Communities along the proposed route expressed opposition to the plan. Residents and officials were concerned about loss of farmland, safety along the line and drainage issues.
Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties passed resolutions against the freight train line.
“I think the STB did their job,” said Porter County Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South. “The application wasn’t sufficient and it’s nice to see government work for the best interest of the people.”
Great Lakes attorney Michael Blaszak said officials are considering their options in light of the board’s decision.