- The Surface Transportation Board (STB) rejected Great Lakes Basin Transportation's (GLBT) proposal to build a new rail line bypassing Chicago traffic last week, the Chicago Tribune reports.
- The regulator rejected the plan for a lack of complete and accurate financing plans. The STB had asked the proponents to disclose financial records in addition to funding sources, but GLBT refused citing privacy concerned.
- The proposed rail line would have run through Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, but was heavily opposed by rural residents and major rail lines.
Although seemingly a good alternative to Chicago rail congestion, the GLBT line may have been doomed from the start.
With the disinterest in usage by Class I railroads, the GLBT was unable to garner sufficient support for its 261-mile rail bypass, despite UPS' pledge to frequent the line. As it faced examination by the STB, vital questions regarding funding remained unanswered while residents' resistance grew. Though some back and forth about disclosures occurred between the attorney representing GLBT and the STB, ultimately, the plan was rejected.
The GLBT walked into a surprisingly tight spot with its plan to build a bypass. Perhaps unaware of the area's disinclination for disruption — demonstrated in the community's previous success fighting the Illiana Expressway — the group descended on an area without first gauging public opinion. It faced a further conundrum over finances, with investors unwilling to commit until official approval was gained, while officials insisted on reliable, well-funded backers before granting that approval. In addition, the fact that the GLBT's net income was negative over a million dollars contributed to a sense of financial unreliability.
Ultimately, the combination of public disapproval and financial cloaking proved fatal for the line. It's unlikely that further attempts will be made, leaving Chicago's congestion as a status-quo condition for U.S. supply chains.