1,200 Rail Against ‘Train Parking Lot’, Daily North Shore

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More than 1,200 people heard a select group of neighbors, an expert and public officials including two members of the U.S. Congress explain why five miles of railroad holding tracks should not be built in Glenview, Northbrook and Lake Forest.

 

[Below is a compressed summary of The Daily North Shore's article here]

The speakers laid out their case March 12 at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, stating that a proposed expansion of Amtrak Hiawatha service between Chicago and Milwaukee need not include holding tracks to allow faster passenger trains to pass slower freights.

Those in attendance also learned they will have an opportunity to lobby representatives of the decision makers during a public meeting this spring. The project is under consideration by the Federal Railroad Administration, Illinois Department of Transportation and Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Glenview officials have been fighting the proposed infrastructure needed to accommodate the increased traffic for nearly four years, DailyNorthShore reported on September 30, 2016.

Lake Forest, Northbrook, Deerfield and Bannockburn joined the effort in October, 2016, when the FRA issued its Environmental Assessment detailing how it would accommodate freight and passenger traffic in the Chicago-Milwaukee rail corridor.

The Environmental Assessment calls for two holding tracks to let freights stop with engines running while speedier passenger trains pass, according to Jeff Brady, Glenview’s director of community development.

Holding Tracks Proposed in Lake Forest, Glenview, Northbrook

Brady said one holding track is approximately three miles long in Lake Forest stretching between just north of the city’s west side train station to Highway 176. Later that month or in May he said there will be another public meeting where people can make their feelings known to the FRA, IDOT and WisDOT.

The first speaker after Glenview Village President James Patterson opened the meeting, Libby Ogard, the president of Prime Focus LLC, a railroad consultant, said the holding tracks were an ineffective short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Recognizing that the Chicago area is the freight hub of North America, Ogard said most freight trains are close to 12,000 feet long, rendering a two-mile long holding track useless. “Freight trains should loop around populated areas further west.”

Glenview was united in its opposition to the holding tracks with Patterson, Cummings, Brady and Deputy Village Manager Dan Owen all talking about steps to fight the holding tracks along with representatives of the community representing varied constituencies.

Kent Fuller, a Glenview resident and retired executive with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, former Glenview Chamber of Commerce President Jim Martin, representatives of organized opposition groups impacted by the proposal and Glenbrook High School District 225 Board of Education President Skip Schein voiced different arguments.

Glenbrook High School District 225 Board of Education President Skip Schein tells the crowd the impact holding tracks will have on Glenbrook South High School.

“Frankly, we won’t be able to start school on time,” said Schein.

Read the full article here

Gary Ricke