Posts Tagged ‘Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc’

STB Rejects Bid to Build Chicago Bypass

September 1, 2017

The proposed Chicago freight bypass has been stopped dead in its tracks.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board unanimously rejected the proposal of Great Lakes Basin Transportation Company to build the bypass railroad between northwest Indiana and southern Wisconsin.
The STB said it acted due to the lack of information about GLBT’s finances and operations.

“[Great Lakes’] current assets of $151 are so clearly deficient for purposes of constructing a 261-mile rail line that the Board will not proceed with this application given the impacts on stakeholders and the demands upon Board resources,” the STB said in its decision.

The Board’s action halts the environmental review process of the project as well as disallows GLBT from purchasing property and starting construction.

News reports indicated that the dismissal was without prejudice, meaning GLBT could seek STB approval later for the same or a similar project.

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GLBT Says it Can Finance Chicago Bypass Route

August 7, 2017

Great Lake Basin Transportation has told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that it is confident in its ability to finance a proposed 261-mile Chicago rail freight bypass line.

GLBT was responding to critics of the proposed $2.8 billion project who have questioned the company’s ability to obtain financing.

In filings with the STB, GLBT contended that Congress is on record as favoring competitive rail ventures such as the proposed rail line between Northwest Indiana and Southern Wisconsin through the Staggers Rail Act of 1980.

GLBT Vice Chairman James Wilson told the STB that the investment community “has considerable interest in financing this project once all required regulatory approvals are received.”

The company, though, conceded that at this time it is “unable to project exactly what form that financing will take” until STB approves the project.

Citing the 1998 case of the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad, GLBT said, “it is not necessary for rail line construction applicants to come to the [STB] with every penny of the cost of their proposed projects in hand.”

DM&E received approval to built a 280-mile new railroad to haul coal from the Powder River Basin. However, it never built the line for which it won regulatory approval.

Critics of the Chicago bypass have cited filings that GLBT submitted to the STB showing that in 2016 the company finished the year with no net income and a net worth of just $151.

Most of GLBT’s revenue was spent on legal feels and consultant studies.

Wilson said in a letter to the STB that potential investors have said that rules prevent investment in the preliminary state of the project because Great Lakes cannot assure them that STB will approve the project.

He said GLBT has met with “hundreds” of qualified investors, from individuals to banks and pension funds. GLBT has also spoken with potential investors in the Middle East and Australia.

GLBT contends that its railroad would become profitable in the third year after completion and to have earnings before interest and taxes to fixed charges coverage of approximately 4.5 to 1 in its fifth year of operation.

Opponents Want STB to Reject Chicago Bypass

July 18, 2017

Opponents are rallying their forces to oppose a proposed rail bypass route being built around Chicago.

The groups have asked the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to reject a plan by Great Lakes Basin Transportation to build a proposed 261-mile freight railroad route that would extend from northwest Indiana to southern Wisconsin and run through Illinois to the west of Chicago.

Lack of funding for development of the line and lack of commitment from Class 1 railroads to using it were among the arguments cited by such groups as Residents Against the Invasion of Land by Eminent Domain.

Opponents have also talked about loss of farmland and environmental issues.

The STB is currently reviewing the application for authorization to build the rail line, which is estimated to cost as much as $2.8 billion.

In filing made last month, GLBT reported it had a net worth of $151 in 2016 and spend heavily on fees that year to lawyers and consultants.

GLBT Had 2016 Net Worth of $151

June 27, 2017

The company that wants to build a rail freight bypass route around Chicago had a net worth of $151 in 2016.

In a regulatory filing with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, Great Lakes Basin Transportation reported it had $802,000 in accounts payable for its current liabilities in 2016.

GLBT’s equity included $473,573 in stockholder investment but it had a negative $71,878 in retained earnings and net income of a negative $1,203,445.

It had no net income in 2016 although it generated $401,544 in investment revenue from stock sales in 2016. But that was eaten by expenses of $312,828 for consultants and $66,360 for legal work.

The proposed 261-mile bypass, which would begin in Northwest Indiana and extend into southern Wisconsin, is currently being considered by the STB. It would cost $2.8 billion to construct.

GLBT contends that the bypass would increase rail capacity in Chicago and allow 110 trains per day to avoid the congested city’s existing rail network.

Frank Patton, the GLBT chairman, controls just over 87 percent of the company. He founded and managed Portfolio Dynamics, a software company.

Vice Chairman James T. Wilson has a 5 percent share of the company. He worked for 18 years for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and has 20 years of experience as a railroad industry consultant.

GLBT Clarifies Location of Proposed Rail Line

June 24, 2017

Great Lakes Basin Transportation has told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that its proposed Chicago bypass route will not be built through any major population areas of incorporated cities.

The information was given to the board this week in response to a request for additional information about the proposed route, which will extend from northwest Indiana to southern Wisconsin.

GLBT officials said the line will pass through Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, LaSalle, Grundy and Kankakee counties in Illinois; Lake, Porter and LaPorte in Indiana; and Rock in Wisconsin.

However, the line is expected to pass through some areas of the incorporated municipalities of Kingsbury and Lowell, Indiana; and Rochelle and Rockford, Illinois.

“It should be kept in mind that the purpose of the line is to expedite freight shipments originating and terminating on other carriers around the congested Chicago area,” GLBT officials said in the filing. “To minimize environmental impacts, GLBT located its proposed line to avoid cities and existing homes outside city limits to the maximum extent possible.”

GLBT Founder Owns Most of the Company

June 14, 2017

It turns out that the founder of a company seeking to build a railroad bypass around Chicago owns most of the company.

A recent filing with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board disclosed that Frank Patton, the founder and chairman of Great Lakes Basin Transportation, owns 87.2 percent of the company.

Shareholder Jim Wilson owns 5 percent of the company with 22 other shareholders having smaller ownership shares.

GLBT had sought to shield its ownership structure from public view, but the STB rejected that earlier this year and ordered it to show who owns the company.

The proposed rail bypass would extend from northwest Indiana to southern Wisconsin.

The STB is not expected to approve or reject GLBT’s application for authority to build the line until later this year.

STB Wants More Information Chicago Bypass

June 6, 2017

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is seeking additional information from Great Lakes Basin Transportation pertaining to the proposed Chicago bypass route that it wants to build.

The Board ruled that GLBT’s application is incomplete and rejected the company’s effort to designate its list of its 10 principal stockholders and their respective holdings as confidential.

GLBT was given until June 22 to provide additional information including a more complete list of the counties and cities in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin that the rail line would serve.

The proposed freight-only route would extend for 261 miles between Northwest Indiana to southern Wisconsin.

GLBT had argued that its list of shareholders contained proprietary and commercially sensitive information, and confidential personal information. If that information was disclosed, GLBT said, it could have an adverse impact on GLBT and its principals.

In its filing with the STB, GLBT has said that the rail line, if built, will be grade separated from intersecting railroad lines and major highways, but would interchange with the six Class 1 railroads serving Chicago along with six regional railroads at 26 interchange points.

UPS Endorses Chicago Bypass Proposal

May 31, 2017

The proposal to build a freight-only bypass rail route around Chicago has picked up a big endorsement from UPS.

The package delivery and logistics company supports the proposed 261-mile line that would begin in northwest Indiana and end in southern Wisconsin.

Comments filed with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board show that many shippers favor the bypass while some railroads, notably Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, have gone on record opposing it.

NS and UP said in comments submitted to the board that they would not use the route, preferring instead to use their existing tracks.

Comments are being taken through June on the plan by Great Lakes Basin Transportation to build the bypass, which also has aroused some NIMBY opposition along its proposed path.

Chicago Bypass Bid Filed with STB

May 3, 2017

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.

Chicago Bypass Route Review Suspended

December 16, 2016

An office of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has suspended its environmental review of a proposed new Chicago bypass rail route.

STBThe Office of Environmental Analysis said that it ceased its review of the proposed rail line at the request of Great Lakes Basin Transportation.

GLBT had proposed building a 278-mile rail line between northwest Indiana and southern Wisconsin.

A letter sent to the STB  from GLBT said that it is working on a “more complete overview of the project’s business and operating impacts.”

The STB’s environmental assessment office said it will issue a final scope of study for the preparation of the draft environmental impact statement, taking into consideration all comments received during the public comment period.

Once alternative routes for the rail line are described, the STB will solicit additional public comment.