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Standing up and stopping the EJ&E

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As The Sun has dutifully reported, the proposed acquisition of the EJ&E by the Canadian National means one thing for Naperville - a ton of freight trains rolling through the city at all hours of the day and night. Forget the noise - although that's bad enough - but what about the increased safety hazards to cars, pedestrians and even school buses that have to navigate through the perilous railroad crossings? But help may be on the way. As an update to this story The Sun has exclusively reported that the Dupage Forest District is standing up to the powerful railway barons and drawing a line in the sand, or make that a forest preserve. The Canadian National needs a one-acre parcel smack dab in a DuPage forest preserve for a critical switching station. The District is saying no dice - we're not selling. Will this one acre make a difference in the long run to the acquisition? Who knows. But it's kind of nice to see that an organization dedicated to the preservation of green space is doing what they consider the right thing - saying NO WAY, we don't want your railroad. What do you think? The conversation is now open.

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37 Comments

FYI, your neighbors in Downers Grove and La Grange seem to survive quite nicely with close to 150 Amtrak, Metra and BNSF trains per day running through them. What's the big deal? For some more balanced commentary we recommend www.cnrealitycheck.blogspot.com.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 11, 2008 10:21 AM
"And that a Canadian rail company has found a way to have taxpayers in Illinois help make them more money?"

_______________________________________

Unbelievable. Again, the CN doesn't need the crossings upgraded to make the deal work, nor to make money. The Railroads have been running for over a hundred years, and they own the land their tracks are on. Over the years they have allowed grade crossings to be built over their property for the convenience of the motoring public. If a municipality wants a crossing upgraded, it is on them, as the rail doesn't need the crossing in the first place. If the rail wants to contribute towards it, fine, but they have no obligation financially to upgrade crossings they don't own.

If you want to see a busy rail line just look at the BNSF. Between the freight trains and METRA it is way busier than the CN/EJ&E will ever be and somehow the towns east of here with grade crossings seem to manage.As a matter of fact, one reason for the back up on the rail lines running into the city is because of the METRA trains. In the morning and evening METRA takes priority and the freight trains have to sit. Did you ever stop and think what life for the commuters would be like if the RR's decided that they needed their tracks for freight trains and gave METRA the boot?

I'm sorry what are your facts, again? Oh, that's right you only have witty comments that demean other people and are supposed to influence others. Not.

My facts are reported by the rail lines.

CN's acquisition stands to queer the STAR Line proposal. The necessary addition of tracks would either spike the STAR plans or result in massive cost overruns (guess who picks those up?).

CN has also pledged to contribute to 3-4 grade improvements (over/under passes) along the line. Problem is: there are 140 crossings, and even if you figure that 10% are necessary, these cost $20 million a pop. Guess who is going to be paying for that? Not CN. We taxpayers are going to be picking up the check on that - corporate welfare at its finest. The proposed transaction stinks. If it can't stand on its own - with all of the costs associated included - why should taxpayers subsidize the merger of two corporations?

Anon, I'm out of the mandatory 5-mile evac radius in the event of an anhydrous ammonia tank breach, of which CN has had more than a couple. I'd be more than a little unhappy if I was in that radius. Familiar with that stuff? You should read up on the Canadian Pacific rail accident in Minot, North Dakota.

The real question is: why? And: why now? CN has been transporting through Chicago for years, and while it is not the most effective route, it works. Could it be, just maybe, that the part of the Chicago line that CN doesn't own is being leased to them at an extremely high price? And that a Canadian rail company has found a way to have taxpayers in Illinois help make them more money?

Oh, wonderful, the address for the garbage truck a link to a .gov web site.

Hmmm, the same government that says waterboarding isn't torture?

Hey nube, let me give you a clue... we can't trust ANYTHING we read on the web these day, including what is found on a .gov web site.

Surely you have something more compelling than just this one link to support your argument?

address for the garbage truck

http://www.safetydata.fra.dot.gov

Many of the accidents are caused by poor maintenance? Do not function properly? Off what garbage truck did you get that load of nonsense?

These signal systems have an extremely high degree of reliability not unlike signal systems at intersections. Due to certain types of abuse and vandalism these systems can sometimes appear to be malfunctioning. But even the malfunctions have been designed to "fail" in a safe mode... meaning the lights are working and the gates are down.

It is interesting to also note all of the way "out there" fool-proof systems that have been proposed to increase safety at railroad crossings. One of my personal favorites is the net type barricade with aircraft carrier type restraining cable. We will "catch" the car and safely bring it to a stop... Please! Give me a break. Why waste all this effort on idiots who deliberately drive around gates and proceed past warning devices that mean stop? They only do it because they know they can probably get away with it if they can beat the train.

You know what? I do think we should redesign all of the railroad crossing in the nation. Throw out the ding, ding, ding. Throw out the cross arms. Throw out the double red lights. Replace the whole mess with a simple red light system and a warning sign that will become illuminated when a train approaches. The warning sign will bear the wording "DANGER - SEVERE TIRE DAMAGE WILL OCCUR. DO NOT CROSS TRACKS." The lights will be interconnected to a pneumatically or hydraulically operated TIGER'S TOOTH strip which will extend from curb to curb across the approaching roadway. Any cars which fail to yield will get all 4 tires instantly shredded. Same kinds of strips we are used to seeing at parking lots and rental car lots. The only difference is that these will be retractable.

The learning curve with this approach will be really short. Problem solved.

RJ,

If you look at this information many of the accidents are caused by poor maintenence including crossing warnings that do not function properly. Another high factor were trains moving at speeds faster than allowed around designated crossings.

They are not all cars crossing tracks when not allowed as you would like everyone to think. Actually that is the minority. However, I suggest everyone looking at the reports and making up thier own minds. I personally think these statistics will naturally increase with an increase in the number of trains traveling along the tracks.

RJ,

Right statistics, just a typo. CN is 4th and CP is 10th. So actually CN is ranked 4th with more than 33 accidents. Thanks for clearing that up.

Posted by: curious | March 7, 2008 08:31 AM
"The point of making sure overpasses/underpasses exist around schools are you will have several inexperienced drivers. That is a given, these kids have to start somewhere and they all have very little experience. So did you when you first learned how to drive and got your license. Do some children make poor choices? Yes. As well as some adults."

I don't know about you Curious, but when I first learned to drive I was taught to respect trains and how to safely navigate a crossing. I would hope parents and Drivers Ed teachers would still be stressing the fact that if one challenges a train there is a good chance they will lose.

Here is a great site for parents to get information to teach their young drivers about rail crossing safety;
Operation Lifesaver
http://www.oli.org/

Anonymous | March 7, 2008 09:00 AM
"For 2007 the Federal Railroad Administration reported 151 highway-rail accidents in the state of Illinois. The CP ranked 10th (by railroad company) with 33 reported highway-rail accidents in 2007. EJE is ranked 22 with 5 reported highway-rail accidents."

So what exactly is your point anonymous? Is this supposed to show some kind of bad safety record on the railroads part? First off you posted the stats for the wrong railroad. The Canadian Pacific (CP) is not the one looking to purchase the EJ&E, the Canadian National (CN) is.

Secondly, rail highway accidents happen when vehicle/pedestrians are trespassing on the tracks when a train is approaching. There isn't much a railroad can do if someone insists on going around lowered gates or stops on the tracks. The higher the number of incidents per year just shows that some railroads have more crossings to contend with. Comparing the EJ&E which has a 100 miles of track total to a company like the CP or CN that have close to 10k miles each doesn't really prove anything except they have more crossings which raises the odds of an incedent accordingly.

For 2007 the Federal Railroad Administration reported 151 highway-rail accidents in the state of Illinois. The CP ranked 10th (by railroad company) with 33 reported highway-rail accidents in 2007. EJE is ranked 22 with 5 reported highway-rail accidents.

You may find this information at

http://safetydata.fra.dot.gov

Jan 2007- Dec 2007

HIGHWAY-RAIL TRESPASSING INCIDENTS(not at crossings)
Incidents: 2,728
Number per million train miles: 3.45 Frequency per million train miles: 1.11
Total fatalities: 339 Total fatalities: 486
Total nonfatal conditions: 983 Total nonfatal conditions: 393
Number of fatal crossing incidents 292 10.70%

Highway-rail and trespassing incidents account for 95.38% of all fatalities.
Highway-rail incidents represent 21.61% of all reported events.

A highway-rail incident is any impact between a rail and a highway user at a crossing site, regardless of severity.
Includes motor vehicles and other highway/roadway/sidewalk users at both public and private crossings.

"Noting that deaths at grade crossings rose 11 percent last year, the inspector general said, "Greater attention is needed in the areas of reporting and investigating grade crossing collisions, and strengthening enforcement when an F.R.A. inspector cites a railroad for a safety defect."

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/02/national/02rail.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

rail road statistics

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/us/05brfs-RAILROADDEAT_BRF.html?ref=todayspaper

Who suggested every crossing had to have an overpass/underpass? That makes no sense. Do we have stoplights at every intersection?

Please stop being so shortsighted.

As in every exchange there has to be some give and take. I am sure you are well aware of this fact.

The point of making sure overpasses/underpasses exist around schools are you will have several inexperienced drivers. That is a given, these kids have to start somewhere and they all have very little experience. So did you when you first learned how to drive and got your license. Do some children make poor choices? Yes. As well as some adults.

No one has made any reference to paint the railroad out to be some giant evil corporation (as you so eloquently put it), I suggested we work together to find an acceptable agreement between both parties. Crazy, huh?

Curious, I found your story curious, so I googled it. This is the link to the original story I found:

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/1780886/detail.html

Funny thing is, the story matches yours except for one critical point, the fact that the girl lived.

If you read the story, you will find that an inexperienced 16 year old driver placed herself in danger. The story changes several times, ending up with a idiot jury awarding the girl 11 million to punish the railroad for her stupidity. Just like RJ pointed out, a bleeding heart jury went after the perceived big pockets with little or no evidence to support the driver's or your claims. The only thing to learn from this 'tragedy' is that stupid people do stupid things like pulling on to a track they cannot clear, and then other stupid people in the form of a jury reward their stupidity.

"It is their responsibility to operate safely."

It is also the general publics responsibility not to stop on the tracks or go around the gates. There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to be on the tracks in the first place except crossing them when it is clear.

The reason the RR's settle is because they are made out to be this big evil corporation that kills so called innocent people and it is cheaper to settle than take a chance on a bleeding heart jury awarding the lotto for someones stupidity. Common sense and personal responsibility are no longer required, just blame someone else and sue them.

Let's be practical, not delusional.

One acre of land is only worth so much under the best of conditions.

There is no way a railroad is going to upgrade 130 crossings in exchange for one acre of land. Without knowing the specific factors in consideration of the alleged lawsuit settlement I will continue to maintain that the road departments of whatever local, county, state, or branch of the federal goverment sought an easement across the railroad property have a much greater burden to demonstrate that they designed, constructed, operated, and maintained these crossing to be safe for the motorists who will be crossing the tracks. Yes train vs vehicle accidents do occur. The overwhelming majority, by far and away, are directly attributable to the motor vehicles and not the trains.

Fact is the railroads would prefer not to have all of these easements across their land. Yes, they have to deal with it and a lot of lawsuits as a result. That is one of the reasons why they have lots of very good attorneys on their staff and under retainer. They can better afford to wage and win a lawsuit for better than the DuPage Forest Preserve District.

If they set their mind to it, the railroad will get this one acre of land. No doubt about it.

It is their responsibility to operate safely. If it weren't they would not settle court cases and pay for an overpass or underpass to allow traffic to safely cross their tracks.

We have a lot of civil engineering situations around Naperville and Aurora. I suggested we use the opportunity of land they currently desire (for a quick, cheap, easy solution) to fill their need in exchange for safe crossings for our benefit.

The FPD should negotiate on our behalf so everyone can win without further costly process. The railroad will certainly still make a huge profit.

Maybe a fence is a good idea. At least with a fence you could install a GATE and charge a TOLL for each boxcar, with an extra surcharge for cars hauling bottled water.The railroads,like the telephone, are two of the feds favorite 'sons',very much regulated and still protected by the LAW of the LAND.

Curious,

I'm not sure where or how you came to the conclusion that it is the railroad's responsibility to pay for the construction of everpass or underpass improvements across a railroad.

Yes, there are some bridges or viaducts that were built by railroads because that was the most cost efficient way to handle a given civil engineering situation. These are exceptions, not the rule. The overwhelming number of bridges or viaducts that we see were designed, built, and maintained at government expense. Remember, the government in so building these bridges and viaducts is building them across privately owned land. These structures are not being built for the benefit of the railroad, but rather for the benefit of the motorist.

Is it possible that the railroad might be interested in improving some crossings? Possibly, it will depend upon how many and how much the improvements cost. It also depends upon what the railroad needs or wants in exchange. Hold them hostage on one critical acre and don't expect much. Remember, the railroads are not a charity. Unlike the government they do not have an endless supply of money that they can print whenever they need it.

Plus if the FPD doesn't negotiate in good faith over one lousy acre and the railroad is forced to go to court and pay a bunch of legal fees to take the lousy one acre by eminent domain don't expect the railroad to be to excited about voluntarily making any improvements for a long, long time to come.

This is another great example of having way to many branches of local government in Illinois. A bunch of jerks over in the DuPage FPD can tick off an entire railroad and there is nothing everyone in the communities stretching across all 130 of these crossing can do about it and they will the ultimate losers in this situation. All because of the petty, shortsightedness of the FPD.

Remember to personally thank each of the FPD commissioners at the time of their next election.

The increased rail traffic will not get all the trucks off the road. It will only serve to divert other trains to make delivery faster and thus more profitable for CN.

We need to force a better deal from CN and make sure we get more overpass/underpass locations from them and we get to designate where they will be located. We also need to try to limit the number of trains per day and control speed near crossings that have no overpass or underpass.

I lived in Castle Rock Co. and my neighbor's daughter was killed in her car when it stopped on the tracks. The crossing was not operating correctly, the train was traveling too fast, the operator did not see her vehicle soon enough to try to stop farther down the tracks, the girl could not get out of her car. It was early in the morning and she was driving to high school. The town fought the railroad and won monies to have the railroad build an overpass. They also regulated speeds at which the trains could travel through the town safely.

Let's learn from this tragedy and make a safe compromise that will benefit all parties involved. I live near the tracks and am not happy about the prospect, however I am realize that the tracks are there and will be used. I want to make sure the rail company use some of their potential profits to be fair to the towns affected by this merger. It is their responsibility to pay for the construction of overpasses/underpasses to keep our citizens safe especially near schools.

Check out the article in Naperville's "Bridges" newsletter on this topic. They provide the following web-site link that has quite a bit of info...www.naperville.il.us/eje.aspx

Sounds like this acquisition is just about a done deal and coming soon vs. the STAR line is at least 10 years away according to this web-site. I wonder what the cost of a gallon of gas will be then?

PM,

I agree with you! That is a fantastic idea! ONE acre for all of Centacle. Dewey don't even think about this one, it is a no brainer. And don't trip rushing to the phone to call the FPD attorneys.

As for years of litigation... on this I'm not so sure. I was mistaken when I stated earlier that the CN did not have eminent domain power. Truth is the construction of some of the first railroads in the US were in the time frame of 1810-1830. Even back then landowners were not to enthused about selling certain portions. As a result railroads, even though private corporation, were given power of eminent domain. The same holds true for utility type corporations such as pipelines, power companies, etc. The courts have upheld these corporation serve a greater good for all and the public benefit provided is greater than the reluctance of say one landowner who will not cooperate with a sale. There is a ton of case law on just about every aspect imaginable. If the Forest Preserve District wants to be stupid and fight this in court they better realize sooner than later that they will loose and in addition to loosing the 1 acre it will cost us taxpayers a bunch for the legal bill. Every taxpayer should think long and hard about how much this 1 acre is worth in the long run.

It is just a bit ironic that EJ&J has been a good neighbor for all these years and gave "we the people" 130 odd crossings across its land for roads to connect to other roads. Now the railroad asks "we the people" to give it one easement to connect track to track and our answer is to be no? So go ahead, force EJ&J to use eminent domain and I'm sure they will be happy to oblige.

Dewey, work out a land swap if you know what is good for your political future.

If the DuPage park commission were smart, they would sell the one acre to the EJ&E for the $5 million dollars they need to purchase the 42 acres of Cenacle property.

Even Donald Trump couldn't hammer out a deal this good. I'm all for open space acquisition and Cenacle should remain undeveloped. A one acre loss to gain 41 at no cost to the taxpayers sure makes a lot of sense to me! Plus... this would spare the district the cost of years of litigation it's setting itself up for.

Since my opinion has been accused of being what it is because I must be railroad employee I would like to go on the record to state that I have never worked for and do not reasonably foresee ever working for a railroad.

Certainly a lot of people who live immediately adjacent to the tracks will be affected by the increased number of trains. No one put a gun to their head and forced them to purchase the land or the house. They and they alone made that choice of their own free will. Find one example of a house along this stretch consisting of 130 odd railroad crossings that was built before these train tracks and you will have someone who has a legitimate complaint. The rest can pat yourselves on the back for a poor real estate decision.

My own home is located 2-3 blocks directly north of the Burlington-Northern line. As a child I grew up even closer to the elevated trains in Chicago. For those who have not experienced the noise, clatter, and especially the shriek of metal-on-metal produced by the CTA please trust me when I say I'll take the noise from a freight train over the CTA any day or night.

I, for one, will be glad to see the increase in train traffic because it will mean we are getting thousands of trucks OFF THE ROAD. Every year the truck industry pushes for longer work hours, heavier loads, bigger trucks. Decreasing the number of the trucks on the roads will be a good thing for all of us.

Another aspect most of us should fully consider as property owners ourselves. The EJ&J or possibly soon the CN own the property on which the train tracks run. They had owned this land for decades before any of these 130 odd roads existed. Decades before these communities existed. This railroad was built in an entirely rural area. As roads were needed to be built the various governmental groups have needed to seek easements across these tracks. The government is responsible for constructing and paying for the type of crossing. The railroad is under no obligation to pay for these improvements. Remember these improvements serve motorists not the trains. Any responsibility related to the lack of improvements over these 130 odd crossings rest solely with the government planners and not with the railroad.

RJ makes some excellent points about what would be needed by whom for the whole Star Line to become operational. Without this assistance it either will never get built or the cost of a ticket would be so expensive normal commuters would not be able to afford it. In this country railroad track has always been laid for the most expedient movement of freight traffic. Passenger traffic can be accommodated at the same time on these tracks but someone has to pay for the safety and other improvements before Amtrack or Metra can use the tracks. Again don't blame the railroad for this problem, blame the government planners.

If rail was the way to go for passenger traffic why didn't our government planners go out and buy the land and build the tracks? Because they could not afford to do it with the volume of commuter traffic that exists in the morning and the evening. It is much less expensive as has been done on all of our commuter rail line in the Chicago area to just use existing freight tracks because it makes better economic sense. Dig into this just a little bit and it doesn't take much to realize that the partnerships with these railroad are important to serve commuters needs throughout our metropolitan region. Just think of the consequences if Burlington Northern decided that commuter train traffic was too much of hassle to deal with any longer and at some point decided it didn't want to renew it's contract with Metra?

This is a very complex problem indeed. On one hand we are all concerned about the huge increase that is proposed with the sale of this rr, but on the other hand we need this exact stretch of track with the improvements stated for a passenger rail line (star line).The grade crossing along much of this line is in need of much improvement. But if we ever expect to put a passenger line along with the freight traffic 2 sets of tracks with improved crossings will be needed. Another concern is the surface vehicle traffic that will be slowed, especially considering that this track runs north to south thus intersecting every major east west road from Joliet to Barrington. These are major concerns that need to be addressed and in a real hurry. In closing this area is in need of efficient rail traffic and this rail line would certainly help just like an efficient airport in Chicago would help the area. By the way I was a previous Bensenville resident and fighting the airport has been a complete waste of time,the airport and the improved rail will be built.

"It is nice to see an organization that uses the legal theft of land through eminent domain not sell out to a higher bidder."

Wouldn't it be ironic if the Fed's stepped in and filed eminent domain on behalf of the railroad for that one acre and the Forest preserve actually found out what it was like to be forced to give up their property like they have been doing to many others over the years?

"Judging by the previous posts, you guy's must be rail employees.

Oh, I see, if anyone has a different opinion they must be the enemy. Nice. This must be more of the 'You are either with us or against us' mentality.

"The increasd train traffic severely risks the proposed STAR line from Metra"

In reality the Star line will never happen if the CN doesn't purchase the EJ&E. In order for a commuter line to run efficiently a second track would need to be built, which METRA doesn't have the means to finance. The CN needs a second track to make their operation profitable, and has the money to build it. Between the CN, METRA and the Federal Government the STAR Line would become a reality.

FNG,

CN's acquisition stands to queer the STAR Line proposal. The necessary addition of tracks would either spike the STAR plans or result in massive cost overruns (guess who picks those up?).

CN has also pledged to contribute to 3-4 grade improvements (over/under passes) along the line. Problem is: there are 140 crossings, and even if you figure that 10% are necessary, these cost $20 million a pop. Guess who is going to be paying for that? Not CN. We taxpayers are going to be picking up the check on that - corporate welfare at its finest. The proposed transaction stinks. If it can't stand on its own - with all of the costs associated included - why should taxpayers subsidize the merger of two corporations?

Anon, I'm out of the mandatory 5-mile evac radius in the event of an anhydrous ammonia tank breach, of which CN has had more than a couple. I'd be more than a little unhappy if I was in that radius. Familiar with that stuff? You should read up on the Canadian Pacific rail accident in Minot, North Dakota.

The real question is: why? And: why now? CN has been transporting through Chicago for years, and while it is not the most effective route, it works. Could it be, just maybe, that the part of the Chicago line that CN doesn't own is being leased to them at an extremely high price? And that a Canadian rail company has found a way to have taxpayers in Illinois help make them more money?

Help me out Ms. "NO Trains" , maybe I'm a little new in town, but how does mass-transit not equate to less vehicles on the road during rush hour??? (unless you live next to a proposed train station parking lot) It is my understanding that both freight and a commuter (Star) line will be coming with this acquisition, correct me if I'm wrong? Because I'm for better commuter transportation via rail. I lived in Europe for business purposes for years and their rail system is pretty good.
Many families have just one car and just about everybody owns a bicycle.....$4 dollars a gallon is coming, while OPEC & friends continue to restrict oil production to us "glutinous" Americans and China continues to buy everything in sight.

I put the "NO trains" people who bought their homes too close to the RR tracks in the same group as Bennsenvillians who bought next to O'Hare and complain about airplane noise...dud-de-dahhh

There are 140 crossing grades along the EJ&E route. The flow of traffic increasing in the communities the line passes through continues to grow 10 fold. Not everyone wants to live in noisy Chicago, thus the choice to live where we do. The communities cut-off by the frequency of these trains already in use by EJ&E is at about 19 trains, and the 42 additional trains by Canadian Railways will lead to epic traffic disruptions, hazardous materials being shipped feet from homes and schools, and train horn noise of upwards of 80 decibals at 3 times an hour. This is a bad idea, and I'm glad the Forest Preserve has stuck their head out and said it will not share any land, and now Senator Dick Durbin has joined the fight. Judging by the previous posts, you guy's must be rail employees. To the lady who mentioned reduced vehicle traffic volume is dead wrong. The increasd train traffic severely risks the proposed STAR line from Metra since so many of us along the EJ&E line commute to other suburbs. That would increase vehicle traffic over time. Candian National proposed to modify 3 crossings along the route which leaves only 137 more that would have no upgrades. Some kind of good neighbor Canadian National is.Stand up and be heard and let's kill this terrible idea.

True CN can only ask the DuPage Forest Preserve to sell one acre of land. The DuPage Forest Preserve can negotiate or just say no. That will not be the end of the discussion by far.

It is interesting to note that the DuPage Forest Preserve announced today that they were able to negotiate the purchase of Centacle in Warrenville without using eminent domain. That is because the good sisters negotiated in good faith. They could have held out and let a jury decide what their property is really worth. From the sounds of it, considering the acreage, improvements, and the number of buildings that can be used for programing space the DuPage Forest Preserve got an extremely good deal.

Now putting good sense to use it is not hard to imaging that the CN would also negotiate in good faith. Most large corporations are not adverse to greasing the wheels so to speak when it is in their best interest. Let's face it. The railroad was there at that location long before the forest preserve and so far has not succeeded in killing off all of the species Dear Dewey listed in all these years... so if you prefer, bend over while Dewey blows smoke up your...

If Dewey was exhibiting good stewardship for the residents of DuPage Forest Preserve District he would realize that CN would probably be willing to purchase a nice tract of land for the District and execute a land swap. Everyone wins. CN gets their one acre. The Forest Preserve District gets another, much larger parcel to add to the collection AT NO COST.

Like it or love it or hate it CN is coming down the EJ&J. City of Naperville and City of Aurora planners have know for years that this piece of track had all kinds of potential. The Star Line was just one potential use. Yet the incompetence of our city planners allowed our city government to sit idly by and DO NOTHING for years. Now these plans are coming to fruition and we are caught with out pants around our ankles. We have had YEARS to fix these railroad crossing so that everything would be in place by the time things like this happened. We could have built bridges like on Eola Road or viaducts depending upon the crossing, traffic, etc. Yet our city planners did nothing. To this day there is nothing in our plan to build any of these structures. Yet, just go up to Butterfield Road and take a look. What did the state planner know that our planners didn't? Right there on Butterfield Road they built a railroad bridge big enough for 6 LANES OF TRAFFIC under it! And how long ago was this built? And how many lanes of traffic does it currently serve?

Now back to the bigger issue of the 1 acre that CN needs for switching. If the DuPage Forest Preserve thinks for one minute that CN will not eventually get this acre they are wrong. Dead wrong. We are talking about interstate commerce. We are talking about free trade. Yes, CN does not have eminent domain power. The State of Illinois does. So does the Federal Government. Let's not forget that railroads are governed by the federal government not the state.

Dewey got his two cents in and made everyone feel good about him protecting "District land". Now is the time for him to pull his head out and start negotiating seriously with CN. He still has time to get a good deal for us. If he doesn't move fast though, all he is going to do is loose 1 acre.

Rhetoric aside, I hope he is better at negotiation than blowing smoke.

"but what about the increased safety hazards to cars, pedestrians and even school buses that have to navigate through the perilous railroad crossings?"

Perilous railroad crossings? Give me a break. The only time a rail crossing is perilous is when someone goes around the gates or stops on the tracks.

I have mixed views and need more info to make a decision....on one side, I am for better transportation via rail but on the other hand I have heard trains will increase 10 fold. What will that do to traffic on main streets? How many under/over passes will we need? and how much will that cost us taxpayers? What kind of trains will be coming? Freight trains, commuter trains or both? One thing for certain, better commuter raillines will take more vehicles off the road which will lead to less fuel consumption. That can't be a bad thing. Better access to commuter lines also increases property values....

It is nice to see an organization that uses the legal theft of land through eminent domain not sell out to a higher bidder.

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