Rail plan investors divulged

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Great Lakes Basin Transportation plan to potentially build a freight railway across Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana must name all top stakeholders in the project.

A ruling from the Surface Transportation Board (STB) requires listing all key investors on the project, with GLBT Chairman Frank Patton holding over 87 percent, GLBT Vice President Jim Wilson holding 5 percent and eight other top 10 shareholders having between .39 percent and 1.01 percent in GLBT, according to the application.

The application shows 24 shareholders in total, with the remaining 14 unnamed investors holding a total of 1.54 percent in the company. The ruling by the STB required only the top 10 shareholders be named.

The June STB decision also required a complete list be released of cities served by the railroad and a completed list of counties the proposed rail line would potentially travel through. LaPorte County in Indiana, which is included on the map, was not listed in the application. The proposed 270-mile-plus freight line would run through Rock County in Wisconsin and Winnebago County in Illinois.

The route remains unchanged in the official application filing. The original plan had the line going through Boone County, but that plan was changed and the route now is planned to run west of Rockford and west of Beloit. The rail line is proposed to run from La Porte, Indiana to Milton, Wisconsin. If built, trains would run south from Milton, between Beloit and Janesville, before cutting into the Town of Beloit and heading into Illinois and on to Indiana, according to GLBT maps.

A vocal group of residents in Rock County in Wisconsin and Winnebago County in Illinois have voiced opposition to the proposed rail line.

The railway is the first part of a plan intended to improve freight train travel times around the Chicago area, including a new privately funded expressway serving the south suburbs. The expressway would start in Grundy County, Illinois and end in Michigan City, Indiana. The rail and toll road would make up a 2,000-foot-wide corridor, possibly expanding on right-of-way routes along the corridor. The toll road would stretch 125 miles, with plans set to go before the Indiana and Illinois transit boards ahead of public hearings on the issue.

The plan to build the railroad is expected to cost nearly $3 billion, plus $4 billion for the separate expressway project and $1 billion for contingencies.

Options for financing the permitting phase of the project, land acquisition and construction are all currently being discussed, according to the application. No financing commitments for the project had been secured, and "does not anticipate doing so until it receives STB authority," the application states.

For updates on the plan, visit greatlakesbasin.net.

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