- The Surface Transportation Board (STB) is seeking further details before ruling on the Great Lakes Basin Transportation's (GLBT) plan to build a 261 mile bypass around the Chicago's highly congested rail hub, DC Velocity reported Monday.
- The STB said it seeks a list of the cities to be served to by the bypass; previously, GLBT provided only counties. The Board also seeks a copy of GLBT's most recent balance sheet and income statements. Finally, the Board rejected GLBT's claim that its list of the ten principal stockholders and their respective holdings be withheld due to confidential status.
- Other rail lines, most notably Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern, previously expressed disinterest in the bypass. UPS, however, is wholly in favor of the plan.
The Great Lakes Basin Transportation project to build a more efficient freight route is facing great scrutiny over whether such a proposal would be effective, or if it is even necessary.
In previous reporting, Supply Chain Dive has highlighted how the proposal for a new freight route that bypasses the congestion shows the need for updated infrastructure, but depends highly on other rail lines' willingness to collaborate. In addition, a recent report by the Chicago Post-Tribune shows the high degree of opposition by environmental groups, which often mount challenges delaying new infrastructure projects. Given the scale of this project, even if approved, the proposal would likely be mired in legal battles.
However, it is important to note the STB's decision is, foremost, a procedural one. "Thee Board has reviewed GLBT’s application and finds several deficiencies," the regulators write. However, those deficiencies revolve around missing certifications on documents and an unnecessary lack of transparency.
Despite receiving "numerous comments" from organizations, citizens and legislators, the STB does not reveal an opinion on the project's merits. A new decision will not come until after the STB receives the additionally requested information on June 22.