New Lenox seeks agreement with CN

New Lenox seeks agreement with CN

There are 61 comments on the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen story from Feb 2, 2010, titled New Lenox seeks agreement with CN. In it, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen reports that:

CHICAGO - New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann is "confident" that he soon will be talking to Canadian National Railway officials before the village's battle against the company reaches the courts.

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Gramps

Lockport, IL

#1 Feb 10, 2010
Most of the communities along the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway have already successfully negotiated mitigation agreements with Canadian National. It is long past time for New Lenox Mayor Baldermann to start negotiating with CN in good faith and get a deal done.
Common Sense

Chicago, IL

#2 Feb 10, 2010
Gramps wrote:
Most of the communities along the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway have already successfully negotiated mitigation agreements with Canadian National. It is long past time for New Lenox Mayor Baldermann to start negotiating with CN in good faith and get a deal done.
Agreed! I would be willing to bet that NL & Will County don't get a dime's worth more than Joliet and others affected by the CN purchase of the EJE tracks. That after waiting months and spending untold $$$ for no reason at all.

To negotiate, you need alternatives and NL & Will County have no alternatives to CN. It's best to cut your losses and make the best deal that you can.
Thomas

United States

#3 Feb 10, 2010
I find nothing wrong with CN buying the EJ&E RR. First, Thank You CN for removing those old orange engines that made a hell of alot of noise at 2am.
Second, this town should not complain about CN wanting to increase trains along their tracks. It is really not a nuisance compared to Metra. Metra halts trains across grade crossings, both Laraway and Cedar and causes huge delays while CN keeps them moving. The complaints about safety are a farce. The villages of Westmont, Brookfield, Western Springs, and Hinsdale have a 3 track main line running right thru their towns and I do not see them complaining. NLFD was stopped dead by Metra the other day, why did they not know a train was coming thru? Besides, NLFD has stations on all sides of the tracks including Metra. Mr. Baldermann why don't you make Metra make the same concessions CN has in order to prevent traffic tie ups? You need to hold both RR to the same standards! Don't pick on one when the other is causing more problems(METRA).

While Mokena and Frankfort are spending CN's money on landscaped buffers and quiet zone improvements, New Lenox has held out for an overpass, preferably at Gougar Road, in unincorporated Will County.

Tell me what is that going to do? There is not a NLFD station any where close to Gougar? Makes no common sense what so ever!
plainfield pete

Plainfield, IL

#4 Feb 10, 2010
well with all these crybabies about CN buying the "J", they should be happy that CN still employs people. If it was up to these people they rather have the rails ripped up and increase the number of trucks driving thru town with whatever cargo. I rather have it on the trains.. Also, if you see less trains..it means less manufacturing is being done, means more unemployed..
Gramps

Lockport, IL

#5 Feb 11, 2010
CN has acknowledged that the eventual increase of freight trains through Will County on the EJ&E will include an increase in the volume of hazardous materials carried on those trains. While that may be a cause for concern, those concerns should be put in proper perspective.
In reality, all of the railroad companies operating in Will County (Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Norfolk Southern, Illinois Central, Iowa Interstate,and CSX) transport hazardous materials on a daily basis. Iowa Interstate operates train-loads of ethanol through New Lenox daily on the Metra tracks. Norfolk Southern trains pass through New Lenox in order to serve the refinery in Manhattan. Semi-trucks carrying hazardous materials operate through New Lenox on Route 30 and I-80 every day.
If Mayor Baldermann is so concerned about hazardous materials passing through town, he shouldn't be focusing just on the EJ&E. Why should CN be held to a higher standard than the other railroad companies or the trucking companies?
CC Charlie

Chicago, IL

#6 Feb 11, 2010
Gramps wrote:
CN has acknowledged that the eventual increase of freight trains through Will County on the EJ&E will include an increase in the volume of hazardous materials carried on those trains. While that may be a cause for concern, those concerns should be put in proper perspective.
In reality, all of the railroad companies operating in Will County (Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Norfolk Southern, Illinois Central, Iowa Interstate,and CSX) transport hazardous materials on a daily basis. Iowa Interstate operates train-loads of ethanol through New Lenox daily on the Metra tracks. Norfolk

Southern trains pass through New Lenox in order to serve the refinery in Manhattan. Semi-trucks carrying hazardous materials operate through New Lenox on Route 30 and I-80 every day.
If Mayor Baldermann is so concerned about hazardous materials passing through town, he shouldn't be focusing just on the EJ&E. Why should CN be held to a higher standard than the other railroad companies or the trucking companies?
There's more to it Gramps. The VOLUME of traffic is what the concern is. Anohter set of tracks is in the works. The reason Gougar Road overpass was discussed is due to the hospital. All the residents residing south of the tracks will have no way to get to the hospital if they are having a heart attack and God forbid there is a train going by. The high school is right over there as well. If the mayor did nothing and took the handout in the beginning everyone would be bitching because of that too. I think he's doing a great job.
Gramps

Lockport, IL

#7 Feb 11, 2010
When Schoolhouse Road, Spencer Road, Cedar Road, Gougar Road and Cherry Hill Road were first built across the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway right-of-way, they were all built at-grade. Any of these five at-grade crossings could have been replaced with overpasses decades ago, but it didn't seem to have been a priority for either New Lenox or Will County.

Now, Canadian National has acquired the EJ&E from United States Steel. CN is proceeding with restoring the second track through New Lenox that was removed in the 1970's and restoring the volume of train traffic through New Lenox to the levels that they were in the 1940's and 1950's.

No one disputes that grade separated railroad crossings are far preferable to at-grade crossings; what is in dispute is who should pay for them.

Traditionally, the cost of civic improvements, such as roads and bridges, are shared by those who benefit from them. An overpass built to replace an at-grade railroad crossing is not for the benefit of the railroad; their trains already have the right of way over highway vehicles. Overpasses are built to benefit and improve the quality of life of the motorists that use it. Te railroad industry does not object to having at-grade crossings replaced by overpasses or underpasses, they just object to being forced to pay for them. To demand that CN bear the cost of overpasses over the EJ&E tracks in New Lenox is just unreasonable.
Thomas

United States

#8 Feb 11, 2010
CC Charlie wrote:
<quoted text>
There's more to it Gramps. The VOLUME of traffic is what the concern is. Anohter set of tracks is in the works. The reason Gougar Road overpass was discussed is due to the hospital. All the residents residing south of the tracks will have no way to get to the hospital if they are having a heart attack and God forbid there is a train going by. The high school is right over there as well. If the mayor did nothing and took the handout in the beginning everyone would be bitching because of that too. I think he's doing a great job.
Hey CC Charlie, think about this, to get to the hospital they still have to cross the metra tracks which runs CSX and Iowa Interstate all day long.
CC Charlie

Chicago, IL

#9 Feb 11, 2010
Gramps wrote:
When Schoolhouse Road, Spencer Road, Cedar Road, Gougar Road and Cherry Hill Road were first built across the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway right-of-way, they were all built at-grade. Any of these five at-grade crossings could have been replaced with overpasses decades ago, but it didn't seem to have been a priority for either New Lenox or Will County.
Now, Canadian National has acquired the EJ&E from United States Steel. CN is proceeding with restoring the second track through New Lenox that was removed in the 1970's and restoring the volume of train traffic through New Lenox to the levels that they were in the 1940's and 1950's.
No one disputes that grade separated railroad crossings are far preferable to at-grade crossings; what is in dispute is who should pay for them.
Traditionally, the cost of civic improvements, such as roads and bridges, are shared by those who benefit from them. An overpass built to replace an at-grade railroad crossing is not for the benefit of the railroad; their trains already have the right of way over highway vehicles. Overpasses are built to benefit and improve the quality of life of the motorists that use it. Te railroad industry does not object to having at-grade crossings replaced by overpasses or underpasses, they just object to being forced to pay for them. To demand that CN bear the cost of overpasses over the EJ&E tracks in New Lenox is just unreasonable.
Gramps, since you seem to be so informed, tell us how many MORE trains will pass on this line and why a 2nd set of tracks are needed. Then tell me about the overpass. No one could justify an overpass years ago. Why should we allow a CANADIAN railroad make money and force the US TAXPAYERS to pay for improvements? Sounds like you have stock in the company to me.
beagle

Vancouver, Canada

#10 Feb 11, 2010
CC Charlie wrote:
<quoted text>
Gramps, since you seem to be so informed, tell us how many MORE trains will pass on this line and why a 2nd set of tracks are needed. Then tell me about the overpass. No one could justify an overpass years ago. Why should we allow a CANADIAN railroad make money and force the US TAXPAYERS to pay for improvements? Sounds like you have stock in the company to me.
CC,

It is very simple. The railroad tracks and the land underneath them are private property. Specifically, where a roadway crosses a railroad track (right of way) it is because the government involved has negotiated with the railroad for the right to cross their property. This "right" is generally a multiple of a surveyor chain (i.e. 33 feet) If vehicular traffic or population density increases and a road improvement is required the improvements are the responsibility of the owner of the roadway (i.e. government) NOT the owner of the land who has granted limited level crossing rights across their property.

Your politicians have done you a diservice by trying to portray railroads as just another publically owned utility.

Railroads, like you or the local shopping mall or farmer have private property rights.

A railroad has no responsibility to pay for road improvements just because they granted limited and often time limited level crossing right to a local governemnt.


beagle
New Lenox Taxpayer

Joliet, IL

#11 Feb 11, 2010
Gramps wrote:
When Schoolhouse Road, Spencer Road, Cedar Road, Gougar Road and Cherry Hill Road were first built across the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway right-of-way, they were all built at-grade. Any of these five at-grade crossings could have been replaced with overpasses decades ago, but it didn't seem to have been a priority for either New Lenox or Will County.
Now, Canadian National has acquired the EJ&E from United States Steel. CN is proceeding with restoring the second track through New Lenox that was removed in the 1970's and restoring the volume of train traffic through New Lenox to the levels that they were in the 1940's and 1950's.
No one disputes that grade separated railroad crossings are far preferable to at-grade crossings; what is in dispute is who should pay for them.
Traditionally, the cost of civic improvements, such as roads and bridges, are shared by those who benefit from them. An overpass built to replace an at-grade railroad crossing is not for the benefit of the railroad; their trains already have the right of way over highway vehicles. Overpasses are built to benefit and improve the quality of life of the motorists that use it. Te railroad industry does not object to having at-grade crossings replaced by overpasses or underpasses, they just object to being forced to pay for them. To demand that CN bear the cost of overpasses over the EJ&E tracks in New Lenox is just unreasonable.
As a New Lenox taxpayer I think CN should bear the majority of cost because it is the excessive use of these tracks that will negatively impact our community. You must not live in the area otherwise you would not easily support a tax increase to cover a 15 to 20 million dollar overhead crossing. The brunt of the cost should come from the owners who are using it, not the property owners that are bothered by it. They aren't paying for my yard work, why should I pay for theirs.
Another Taxpayer

Crest Hill, IL

#12 Feb 11, 2010
Beagle, I understand what you where saying about the railroad being private property, if that is the case why does the railroad need approval from the government to purchase said private property? Las time I checked, I don't need any permissions to buy or sell my private property. Additionally, all the railroads get FEDERAL FUNDING and still make alot of money. Lets look at what the CN spent on this purchase which still allowed them to make a profit. There is nothing like sticking up for the big guy. Stay in Canada, which benefits from the very blanket of freedom this country provides them and they get our FEDERAL FUNDING too.
CSX Engineer

United States

#13 Feb 12, 2010
New Lenox Taxpayer wrote:
<quoted text>As a New Lenox taxpayer I think CN should bear the majority of cost because it is the excessive use of these tracks that will negatively impact our community. You must not live in the area otherwise you would not easily support a tax increase to cover a 15 to 20 million dollar overhead crossing. The brunt of the cost should come from the owners who are using it, not the property owners that are bothered by it. They aren't paying for my yard work, why should I pay for theirs.
When your two lane highway becomes an excessive parking lot due to traffic, who pays to have it widened? You say the brunt of the cost should come from the owners who are using it, well that surely isn't the railroad. Perhaps, a toll gate should be set up to pay for the improvement by those who do use it.
Gramps

Lockport, IL

#14 Feb 12, 2010
CC Charlie wrote:
<quoted text>
Gramps, since you seem to be so informed, tell us how many MORE trains will pass on this line and why a 2nd set of tracks are needed. Then tell me about the overpass. No one could justify an overpass years ago. Why should we allow a CANADIAN railroad make money and force the US TAXPAYERS to pay for improvements? Sounds like you have stock in the company to me.
CN will be restoring the second track on the EJ&E through New Lenox in order to improve their capacity to move freight traffic; that's why they bought the EJ&E from United States Steel. USS could have doubled or tripled the volume of trains on the EJ&E years ago if they had so chosen to do so.

IDOT is will be adding lanes to US Route 30 through New Lenox for the same reason; to add the capacity needed to accommodate more vehicular traffic.

Over the past 50 years, the Village of New Lenox has approved substantial residential development to the south of the EJ&E tracks, development that has increased the flow of vehicle traffic across the EJ&E crossings. At the same time, the Village of New Lenox choose not to seek funding for grade separations at any of the five at-grade EJ&E crossings. The Illinois Commerce Commission http://www.icc.illinois.gov/railroad/ has funds in their Crossing Safety Improvement Program for this express purpose. Has the Village of New Lenox ever applied for ICC funding for an overpass? Has the Village of New Lenox engineering department ever done even any preliminary studies to determine the cost of an overpass and the amount of land that would need to be acquired? Has the Village of New Lenox legal department ever taken the necessary steps to acquire the land that will be needed? It was the growth of the Village of New Lenox that created the need for grade separations over the EJ&E, not CN.

As to CN being a "foreign" company, that isn't exactly true. The majority of CN's stockholders are United States citizens, such as Bill Gates. The majority of CN's employees are also United States citizens and tax-payers. You might also be interested to know that CN is managed from an office building at 17641 South Ashland Avenue in Homewood, Illinois. Stop by some time and visit!
CC Charlie

Chicago, IL

#15 Feb 12, 2010
Gramps wrote:
<quoted text>
CN will be restoring the second track on the EJ&E through New Lenox in order to improve their capacity to move freight traffic; that's why they bought the EJ&E from United States Steel. USS could have doubled or tripled the volume of trains on the EJ&E years ago if they had so chosen to do so.
IDOT is will be adding lanes to US Route 30 through New Lenox for the same reason; to add the capacity needed to accommodate more vehicular traffic.
Over the past 50 years, the Village of New Lenox has approved substantial residential development to the south of the EJ&E tracks, development that has increased the flow of vehicle traffic across the EJ&E crossings. At the same time, the Village of New Lenox choose not to seek funding for grade separations at any of the five at-grade EJ&E crossings. The Illinois Commerce Commission http://www.icc.illinois.gov/railroad/ has funds in their Crossing Safety Improvement Program for this express purpose. Has the Village of New Lenox ever applied for ICC funding for an overpass? Has the Village of New Lenox engineering department ever done even any preliminary studies to determine the cost of an overpass and the amount of land that would need to be acquired? Has the Village of New Lenox legal department ever taken the necessary steps to acquire the land that will be needed? It was the growth of the Village of New Lenox that created the need for grade separations over the EJ&E, not CN.
As to CN being a "foreign" company, that isn't exactly true. The majority of CN's stockholders are United States citizens, such as Bill Gates. The majority of CN's employees are also United States citizens and tax-payers. You might also be interested to know that CN is managed from an office building at 17641 South Ashland Avenue in Homewood, Illinois. Stop by some time and visit!
Taxpayers are paying for Rt 30, and no matter how you hash it taxpapers will ultimately pay for the overpass, it's just wrapped up nicer in a grant. I don't buy your explanation. CN is a Canadian company, not US. I will therefore stand by my opinion in that taxpapers of the United States of America should not pay for an overpass. I know the story, trains were here before us, it's just a terrible shame that the little guy ends up paying for big business, especially a Canadian business that has a small office in Homewood.
Hello

Joliet, IL

#16 Feb 12, 2010
Gramps wrote:
<quoted text>
CN will be restoring the second track on the EJ&E through New Lenox in order to improve their capacity to move freight traffic; that's why they bought the EJ&E from United States Steel. USS could have doubled or tripled the volume of trains on the EJ&E years ago if they had so chosen to do so.
IDOT is will be adding lanes to US Route 30 through New Lenox for the same reason; to add the capacity needed to accommodate more vehicular traffic.
Over the past 50 years, the Village of New Lenox has approved substantial residential development to the south of the EJ&E tracks, development that has increased the flow of vehicle traffic across the EJ&E crossings. At the same time, the Village of New Lenox choose not to seek funding for grade separations at any of the five at-grade EJ&E crossings. The Illinois Commerce Commission http://www.icc.illinois.gov/railroad/ has funds in their Crossing Safety Improvement Program for this express purpose. Has the Village of New Lenox ever applied for ICC funding for an overpass? Has the Village of New Lenox engineering department ever done even any preliminary studies to determine the cost of an overpass and the amount of land that would need to be acquired? Has the Village of New Lenox legal department ever taken the necessary steps to acquire the land that will be needed? It was the growth of the Village of New Lenox that created the need for grade separations over the EJ&E, not CN.
As to CN being a "foreign" company, that isn't exactly true. The majority of CN's stockholders are United States citizens, such as Bill Gates. The majority of CN's employees are also United States citizens and tax-payers. You might also be interested to know that CN is managed from an office building at 17641 South Ashland Avenue in Homewood, Illinois. Stop by some time and visit!
Well evidently you have not followed what New Lenox has done regarding the CN acquisition. First, there is only one crossing in the village limits, the others are unicorporated which is why Will County and New Lenox have joined forces. Second, the did do engineering studies on cost and that is why they turned down the $300K offered by CN and joined with Will County to fight the proposal. So don't blame New Lenox or Will County for trying to protect their communities and residents from the negative impact this expansion will cause.
beagle

Vancouver, Canada

#17 Feb 13, 2010
New Lenox Taxpayer wrote:
<quoted text>As a New Lenox taxpayer I think CN should bear the majority of cost because it is the excessive use of these tracks that will negatively impact our community. You must not live in the area otherwise you would not easily support a tax increase to cover a 15 to 20 million dollar overhead crossing. The brunt of the cost should come from the owners who are using it, not the property owners that are bothered by it. They aren't paying for my yard work, why should I pay for theirs.
New Lenox Taxpayer,
You are right. It is the excessive use of the tracks that negatively impact your community. But, it is the excessive use of vehicular traffic crossing the privately owned railroad property that is causing the vehicular traffic delays.

As you say..."The brunt of the cost should come from the owners who are using it, not the property owners that are bothered by it."
Believe me, it is of great inconvenience to the owners of the property (the railroad)to allow level road crossings across privately owned railway land.

Again, as you say "They aren't paying for my yard work, why should I pay for theirs?"

I am in total agreement with you. If you want to use someone else' property you don't expect the owner of the property to pay you. It is just the opposite.

New Lenox Taxpayer, your roadway is crossing private property. Why should the owner of the property (i.e. the railroad) be responsible for doing more than paying its federal, state and municipal taxes.

If you were a Illinois farmer and the community in which you lived wanted to build a road across your property--who pays for the road construction? The farmer? That is exactly what you are asking of the railroad.

The BNSF Railroad has been closing about 3% of the vehicular level crossings that transit their railroad property every year for the last 8 years. Every major railroad has similar programs.

The original agreement with the local government has exceeded its negotiated time frame and the railroad closes the crossing. The railroad owns the property.

beagle
beagle

Vancouver, Canada

#18 Feb 13, 2010
Another Taxpayer wrote:
Beagle, I understand what you where saying about the railroad being private property, if that is the case why does the railroad need approval from the government to purchase said private property? Las time I checked, I don't need any permissions to buy or sell my private property. Additionally, all the railroads get FEDERAL FUNDING and still make alot of money. Lets look at what the CN spent on this purchase which still allowed them to make a profit. There is nothing like sticking up for the big guy. Stay in Canada, which benefits from the very blanket of freedom this country provides them and they get our FEDERAL FUNDING too.
Perhaps you would like to take some time and learn the facts. The published financial statements of the 7 major (Class I) railroads in the US would be a good start. Failing that, phone your local city hall property tax department and ask the dollar amount of property taxes you local freight railroad pays.

beagle
Gramps

Lockport, IL

#19 Feb 13, 2010
Beagle is quite correct here. Canadian National offered United States Steel $300 million for the EJ&E, the Surface Transportation Board approved the sale, and USS accepted CN's offer. CN now owns the EJ&E and has the same rights as a property owner as anyone else. CN is now obligated to pay property taxes on the EJ&E's real estate, but it isn't obligated to accommodate at company expense people who want to cross their private property.

In Illinois, the procedure for getting railroad grade crossing safety improvements approved and funded is to apply to the Illinois Commerce Commission. Filing lawsuits in Federal Appellate Court is a good way to waste time and money, but it isn't a very good way to get an overpass approved.

Surface Transportation Board decisions are based on the law and and on precedents, and requiring a railroad to fund an overpass at company expense is unprecedented. Of the 250 or so decisions that have been handed down by the STB, none have even been overturned and only one has ever even been modified by the courts system. The likelihood of New Lenox, Barrington, Aurora and Will County prevailing in their lawsuit is almost non-existent.

Traditionally, when grade separation projects replace at-grade railroad crossings, the railroad company funds five percent of the cost of the project. I can't speak for CN, but for a Gouger Road overpass, they might be willing to come up with ten percent of the cost if all the litigation ceases. The rest will have to come from local, state and federal funds. In other words, either keep fighting in court or sit down and deal with CN in good faith.
beagle

Vancouver, Canada

#20 Feb 13, 2010
Gramps wrote:
In Illinois, the procedure for getting railroad grade crossing safety improvements approved and funded is to apply to the Illinois Commerce Commission. Filing lawsuits in Federal Appellate Court is a good way to waste time and money, but it isn't a very good way to get an overpass approved.

...Traditionally, when grade separation projects replace at-grade railroad crossings, the railroad company funds five percent of the cost of the project. I can't speak for CN, but for a Gouger Road overpass, they might be willing to come up with ten percent of the cost if all the litigation ceases. The rest will have to come from local, state and federal funds. In other words, either keep fighting in court or sit down and deal with CN in good faith.
Road construction is typically funded by the fuel taxes which are collected by federal, state, and municipal governements.

The local politicians have done their constituents a diservice by not being forthright with the process for funding overpasses. The formula is fairly straightforward. A road is considered part of a national infrastructure system. As "Gramps" says, the railroad funds approx 5% of the cost (as being representative of the increased efficiencies garnered by the railroad) the municipal government also contributes approx 5%, the state government 20-25% and the Feds approx 70%.

The process is usually initiated by municipal governments (on behalf of their electorate) who then lobby for the appropriate contributions from senior governments. It takes about 8 years. Many of your local governments tried to deflect their lack of preparation and foresight by preying on the ignorance of their citizens and blaming the railroad.

Check the facts, examine the on line decisions of the Surface Transportation Board, the information is readily available.

beagle

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