MORRIS – The Grundy County Board adopted a resolution Tuesday night, 15-0, that opposes the Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc. proposed privately funded railway that would cut through Grundy County if it comes to fruition.
As proposed, the Great Lakes Basin Railroad project would run 275 miles from La Porte, Indiana, to Milton, Wisconsin, and cut through Grundy County. Those spearheading the estimated $8 billion effort filed paperwork in March with the federal Surface Transportation Board, the governmental agency responsible for approving or denying the project on its merits while examining potential environmental impacts.
“The people of the county really need your help here,” Brad Male, of Gardner, said during the public portion of Tuesday’s meeting. He asked the board to oppose the railroad.
He said many people in the community still aren’t aware the railroad is proposed to go through the county.
The resolution adopted by the County Board states the project as it’s been presented would cause significant negative impact to private, agricultural and business interests, as well as create substantial and expensive burdens on various governmental bodies.
“It’s important that Grundy County and every other county stand together to pass a resolution of opposition,” County Board Chairman David Welter said before the meeting. “Together we are a larger voice, especially when the decision is not up to us.”
Board member Frank Halpin said he feels the county needs to go further than just adopting the resolution.
“My concern, is I think we need to go one step further and investigate and have a plan in place when they come here,” Halpin said. “What roads are they going to cross, what will it do to drainage, and what bridges. That’s the things I’m concerned about.”
Welter said the Highway and Land Use departments have looked at how it may affect their areas, and the county is not sitting back waiting.
Welter said that because the path is not set in stone and could vary by several miles, any plan to investigate further would not be effective until the STB has issued its results.
Board members Vicki Geiger and Mike Onorato were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Great Lakes Basin Railroad co-founder Frank Patton said before the meeting in an email that he is sad the Grundy County Board is taking a stance in opposing the proposed railroad. LaSalle County also adopted a resolution to oppose the railroad on Tuesday, according to published media reports.