JOLIET — Members of the Will County Board last week applauded the Surface Transportation Board’s imposition of a $250,000 fine on Canadian National Railway.
The fine was levied in response to more than 1,400 unreported crossing blockages, many of them in Will County. CN officials insisted they were acting in good faith and had complied with the STB’s reporting requirements. In addition to the fine, the STB will continue oversight of the EJ&E route for an additional year.
“This is another example of CN disregarding the interests of the communities it has imposed itself on and this has been Will County’s concern from the beginning,” County Board Chairman Jim Moustis (R-Frankfort) said. “They knew the rules and deceived the public so it would appear that their acquisition of the EJ&E has had little impact on the communities it traverses.”
The fine imposed on CN is the first fine the STB has issued since its inception in 1996. While $250,000 is significant, some members of The Regional Answer to Canadian National, including the Will County Board, think the fine is too lenient for the giant rail company.
“It’s really a slap on the wrist,” County Board Minority Leader Walter Adamic (D-Joliet) said. “We’re talking about a giant corporation that grossly misled the public and the STB by under-reporting. Some of these towns have seen their crossing delays jump by as much as 267 percent.”
The delays are of special concern for emergency responders.
“A delay at a crossing can mean a delay in emergency services, and under-reporting the frequency that a crossing is blocked by CN trains creates a false sense of security,” Moustis said. “We will continue to confront and engage both the CN and Surface Transportation Board until the safety of the Will County community is assured.”