The planners behind
the proposed Great Lakes Basin Railroad which would cross in the southern
half of Porter County have now added a new Toll Road to the proposal,
creating a 2,000-foot wide transportation corridor.
made a couple of weeks ago by Great Lakes Basin Transportation chairman
Frank Patton came as a surprise to the Porter County Board of Commissioners
which on Tuesday decided to send a letter to the Surface Transportation
Board asking it to schedule more meetings for the public to exercise its
right to express views.
“We find this
bait-and-switch tactic very troubling,” said Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney,
D-South, reading the letter into the meeting minutes.
In April 2016,
after the County Plan Commission office received notice from the STB that an
environmental impact study of the GLBR line was being commissioned, the
Commissioners passed a resolution denouncing the estimated $8 billion
project, stating that there would be no beneficial impact to Porter County.
They worked with local state officials to get the STB to schedule public
scoping meetings in Porter County for the study.
Starting from the
west, the proposed line in Porter County would enter just north of Hebron
and then move through Boone, Porter, Morgan and Washington townships, and
cross near the southern edge of Jackson Twp. as it goes east into LaPorte
The Toll Road
component is said to follow the same route and, according to a statement by
Patton, would replace the planned Illiana Tollway to mitigate traffic around
Blaney said a
2,000-foot transportation corridor is “drastically different” than a
200-foot rail corridor and residents were not given the information about
the Toll Road at the scoping meetings last year.
“We find this toll
road addition to the plan after the environmental impact meetings were
completed dubious at best,” the letter said. “The Porter County Board of
Commissioners ask that public meetings be held again to allow residents to
comment on the total plan project.”
Biggs, R-North, concurred that by changing the proposal, the public vetting
process should start anew. “My opinion is they should start back at square
A. It changes everything. It’s a total bait and switch.”
President Jeff Good, R-Center, said the Commissioners have been following
the GLBR’s progress “when this thing just sort of came out of nowhere” and
now it’s getting closer to the final plan. “The County had looked at how
this would affect its roadways and drainage but not with the concept of a
toll road,” he said.
“We need to have
the right to go back and look at this all over again,” Good said.
The GLBR project is
said to be funded with money from private sources. It would run from Milton,
Wis. to Kingsbury, Ind. near LaPorte while staying a considerable distance
from the heart of Chicago.