Chicago Bypass Bid Filed with STB

The proposal to build a freight railroad bypass around Chicago is now before the Surface Transportation Board.

Great Lake Basin Transportation filed an application on Monday, one day after the April 30 deadline set by the STB.

The application describes the bypass as a 244-mile line from Rock County, Wisconsin, to Porter County, Indiana, with 17 miles of branch line, a toll highway running parallel to the rail route, and a new international airport south of downtown Chicago.

Cost of the project was put at $2.8 billion with a 2021 completion date. Funding would come from private sources.

Great Lakes said the route will have 26 interchange points with Class I and regional railroads.

In its application, Great Lakes said the bypass “would help alleviate endemic rail traffic delays and congestion in the Chicago area by providing a new railroad linking every major rail line that enters the city.”

It claims that transit times through Chicago could be reduced from 30 hours to eight hours, with an estimated 45 to 72 trains a day. The bypass would be able to accommodate 80 percent to 90 percent growth in traffic by 2040.

Little support for the bypass has been expressed thus far from Class 1 railroads serving Chicago. NIMBY opposition has also been strong along the proposed route.

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