Proposed Boone County Railroad Project Met With Heavy Criticism at Tuesday Meeting

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It is being referred to as the largest railway project in 125 years, and it is causing high amounts of turmoil among Boone County residents.

Hundreds of residents packed a room at the Community Building Complex of Boone County on Tuesday to talk about the new railroad line project, proposed by the Great Lakes Basin Transportation Corporation (GLB), a rail line the company says will expedite freight movements across the country and provide additional capacity for growing railroad traffic.

The project would establish a railroad line that goes around the Chicago metropolitan area. It stretches from Northwest Indiana to Southern Wisconsin and goes through Lee, Ogle, Winnebago, and Boone Counties — a plan which has many citizens angry and concerned.

“For somebody to take my property to build something that’s going to make them a profit, that’s not American,” said Paul Donley, a Boone County farmer.

Not only are citizens concerned about their land and its value, they are worried about what the railway may do to the county’s water sources, its noise and vibration impacts, and the safety of residents.

“Besides the compaction and destruction of this soil, I am most concerned about the toxification of our clean aquifers,” said Boone County resident Toria Funderburg.

“We must all combine ourselves together, group together and formulate a strong force to go against this,” Sandra Kennedy said of the project at a meeting Tuesday in Belvidere.

Many at today’s meeting filled out forms to express their concerns to the Surface Transportation Board.

“There’s no benefits for the county whatsoever. All it’s going to be creating is losses for everybody,” says Capron resident Richard Pierce.

Citizens are also pointing out that Frank Patton, the founder and managing partner of GLB, has no experience with tariff laws or railroads.

All of these concerns were voiced to the Surface Transportation Board, in hopes of creating an Environmental Impact Statement which would outline concerns with the plan and any secondary plans that could be developed.

“So far, since we’ve been here — this is our second week — the meetings have been well attended. The people are very passionate about their concerns,” says Dave Navecky of the Surface Transportation Board.

There have been multiple meetings regarding this controversial topic in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Two additional meetings will occur on April 20th in Rochelle and April 21st in Seneca.

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