Clinton company proposes rail extension

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CLINTON - A new Union Pacific rail extension in Boone County in northern Illinois proposed by Clinton-based DeLong Co. Inc. could extend operations to new markets in the southern United States and beyond, according to company vice president Bo DeLong.

A new rail plan would connect to Union Pacific rail lines with a looped rail track across 122-acres with five grain bins and a grain elevator.

The company currently ships grain via truck, and DeLong said the lack of truck drivers was one of the reasons behind proposing the plan.

The company's application has stalled with Boone County after the plan was sent back to the county's zoning committee after opposition from neighboring property owners who said they had yet to be notified of the proposed project, delaying a vote that could have happened last Wednesday.

DeLong said studies conducted by Union Pacific showed no new noise would be created from the expanded operations, but conceded that truck traffic could increase from its current grain site to the new facility, proposed for near U.S. 20 and Garden Prairie Road in Bonus Township.

Any environmental concerns had been addressed regarding the Kishwaukee River, he added.

The plan could be back before the Boone County Board within the next two months, and DeLong said construction could take six months.

As part of the plan, DeLong said no current truck drivers would be laid off and the new facility, if built, would create a handful of new jobs.

If approved, the rail line could expand the companies reach to livestock markets in Arkansas and Texas.

"The big benefit is it allows us to ship more at one time," DeLong said.

Trucks would move from transporting corn to hauling soybeans, while the new extension would allow corn to be shipped by rail.

DeLong Co. Inc. began operating almost 90 years ago and represents one of the largest feed mills in Wisconsin, with facilities in seven states.

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