MORRIS — The proposed Great Lakes Basin Railroad was the topic of discussion Wednesday morning at the Grundy County Soil and Water Conservation District's quarterly breakfast at R-Place in Morris.
Several Grundy County residents showed up to hear if there was any news on the proposed railroad that, if approved, would travel approximately 31 miles through Grundy County.
The Great Lakes Basin Railroad project, with an estimated $8 billion price tag, would run 275 miles from La Porte, Indiana, to Milton, Wisconsin, cutting through Grundy and LaSalle counties locally.
"If the proposed route is used, 755 acres would be taken out of agriculture production in Grundy County," Grundy County Farm Bureau President Tasha Bunting told those present at the breakfast.
Brooke Baker, administrative coordinator with SWCD, said the proposed railroad project has been a well-discussed topic in the area and it’s important to get accurate information out about the process, so they decided to have this quarter's breakfast tackle the facts about the project.
Those spearheading the railroad filed paperwork in March with the federal Surface Transportation Board, which triggered a series of public hearings called scoping meetings. The STB is the governmental agency responsible for approving or denying the project on its merits while examining potential environmental impacts.
Bunting said that even though the scoping meetings have been completed, residents could still submit public comments online at stb.dot.gov website. She reminded people to make the comments respectful and fact-based.
Debbie Tarrant and her husband, Scott Whittington, said they attended to find out if there was any new information on the railroad, which if built as proposed would go just east of their rural Morris home.
They attended both the scoping meeting in Seneca and a presentation at Morris Community High School hosted by the Grundy County Board and Chairman David Welter, where Great Lakes Basin Transportation co-founder Frank Patton presented the project.