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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Illinois DOT bows to opposition on sidings for Hiawatha expansion NEWSWIRE

Illinois DOT bows to opposition on sidings for Hiawatha expansion NEWSWIRE

By | May 13, 2019

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A southbound Amtrak Hiawatha pauses in Glenview, Ill., on Christmas Eve in 2018. The state of Illinois handed Glenview a significant victory in its fight against the expansion of Hiawatha service, saying it would no longer support plans for a new siding in the community.
TRAINS: David Lassen

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Bowing to opposition from the communities of Glenview and Lake Forest, the Illinois Department of Transportation will no longer support plans for two sidings that are part of a plan to increase Amtrak Hiawatha service between Chicago and Milwaukee. reports that acting IDOT Secretary Omer Osman said in a letter, released by officials in both communities, that “IDOT will not agree to the freight holding tracks in either Glenview or Lake Forest, and you have my commitment that IDOT will not be moving forward seeking federal support for this project.”

Glenview has spent more than $500,000 in city funds to oppose the plan for a 2-mile-long siding next to existing tracks through the community, used by the Hiawathas, Metra Milwaukee North service, and freight trains. Opponents cited pollution and noise concerns about trains being stopped on the siding. [See “Glenview, Ill., budgets more money to fight expansion of Hiawatha service,” Trains News Wire, April 10, 2019.] Another siding was proposed for Lake Forest, although Metra subsequently said that siding would not be necessary.

The sidings have been part of a plan proposed in 2016 to increase Hiawatha frequencies from seven to 10 round trips daily.

25 thoughts on “Illinois DOT bows to opposition on sidings for Hiawatha expansion NEWSWIRE

  1. The best you can get is from Osterman Court south to Dundee Road. It blocks no intersections, has only apartments and retail at the north end and business parks and forest preserve the rest of the way. After Dundee Road is residential on both sides and not viable for any parking.

    As the train rolls, that would be 2.8 miles of siding. About 14.7k feet worth.

  2. Could CP and UP work out a trackage rights agreement where CP could continue to run some freights on the UP New Line north to Trusdell, where a new connecting track could be built between the CP and UP allowing CP freights access back to their C&M sub? The two mains are close together at this point and there looks to be enough open land to build a connection.

  3. @John Privara,

    I would think if you are reading Trains magazine or the online version and posting on these forums the last thing that would bother you is a diesel engine idling behind your property. Based on everything that is involved I’m gathering there wouldn’t be any trains(freight or passenger) that would use the siding during the night when you’re sleeping, but only during daylight hours or dawn/dusk when the commuter rush is going on. Of course they could always just change the plan from a long passing siding and triple the length and say they’re adding triple track(if there’s enough room).

  4. Re: I would think if you are reading Trains magazine or the online version and posting on these forums the last thing that would bother you is a diesel engine idling behind your property.

    I was trying to put myself in the shoes of a normal (non-foamer) person. Sure, I’d pay to have a siding put in next to my house, but most normal people find diesel fumes toxic (some people just have no taste).

  5. Robert Kortum’s idea has some merit. You can see the line in question riding Amtrak just north of the Pleasant Prairie power plant.

    I believe this UP route is single track with passing sidings north of the Lake Forest interlocking observable from US-41 (wye connection to the Waukegan-Kenosha-Racine line used for Metra up to Kenosha and Oak Creek coal movements and is largely current of traffic ABS double track south of there (with the CP connection at Techny CTC).

    Judging from the signaling also observable from US-41 near Gurnee, those sidings don’t appear to be dispatcher controlled power switches but I don’t have a recent timetable for this subdivision.

  6. You know, people, here’s what I find most ironic. It’s precisely in this corridor, more so than almost any other in America, that higher-end neighborhoods directly abut a rail route that has considerable freight. To me this route has been the very antidote to the whining of the working class or minority neighborhoods, “Oh, poor Us, forced to live in the lower-end neighborhood next to the train, how the world picks on us”. In Lake Forest, Glenview, Deerfield, Golf, people with the means to live anywhere else choose to live directly adjacent to frequent Amtrak, freight and Metra.

    Over the decades, the population of this corridor has actually increased with high-rise apartments and condos added in downtown Glenview. (Most development at Glen, a new town at the former Naval Air Station, is further off the tracks.)

    So having chosen homes in this busy freight and passenger corridor, why complain now? I actually don’t get it.

  7. I agree John Privara, I wouldn’t like idling freight locomotives near my home (and I’m a first class freight train lovin’ foamer). But presumably when you buy or rent a home near active railroad tracks (or an airport or an urban baseball stadium), you really do need to understand the current and potential impacts. Often (not always, see Barrington along the EJ&E) those impacts are factored into the price.

  8. Run a couple of these corridor trains on the UP Chicago-Milwaukee line building a new connection into Union Station.

  9. Robert Ash, I don’t believe either half of your sentence (post below) is feasible. The UP North line through Kenosha – Racine isn’t what it used to be, and I don’t see how it could be connected to Union Station.

    On the north end, in the dying days of CNW passenger service CNW trains were diverted into what’s now the Amtrak station. I’ve never found out what the route through south side Milwaukee was but I suspect it was pretty slow and now would be much slower.

  10. Or, resurrect the concept of Metra type runs north from Kenosha (torpedoed by those progressives Walker and the Wisc. GOP) thru Racine to Milwaukee, with some express timings and label it “400 Service.” One can be sure that most current users of the “Hiawatha” don’t use it to connect with Amtrak at CUS, so which Chicago depot is immaterial.

  11. Rell Barrett – Johnson Wax wanting a train is not the same as a train being proposed. I want a lot of things. Doesn’t mean anyone has proposed to get me them.

    I stand by my post and I deny yours’ and Curtis’ posts. There never was a proposal for train service Racine – Kenosha – Milwaukee on the UP (ex-CNW). If there were I’d have known about it. So Walker (and the GOP) didn’t kill a proposal that never was.

  12. As to moving any additional service over to the UP, obviously, there would have to be major track work north of Kenosha, Wisconsin the termination point of Metra service. As to the connection to Union Station, I believe a connection may already exist and/or near Western Avenue in Chicago could be made. None of these suggestions would come cheaply, but passenger train capacity would be increased exponentially. The subject corridor will continue to expand over the decade.

  13. There may be other options to consider on this line. 1) Move Mayfair a few hundred feet north to Cicero and Montrose and make a new AMTRAK stop, CTA Blue Montrose as well to create a better transfer point so that getting to/fro Ohare would be easier. Not sure just how many people are actually going to/fro downtown. 2) A crossover at Rondout to CNs under-used EJ&E would make a more useful train from Great Lakes to Milwaukee on UPN. Just how full (or profitable) are Hiawathas anyway? I have no idea.

  14. @Charles Landey as an economic centrist skeptical of ideological claims from the left OR the right, I think you might need some less ideological news sources. The KRM proposal is (was) pretty well known.

    And according to the Journal-Sentinel link and pull quote below it would appear Curtis and Rell are correct about the method of execution, although they omit the relevant factor that some democrats went along with the republican move to kill in order to preserve funding for expensively mismanaged Milwaukee County (then bus only) transit.

    “At the same time, state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), the KRM’s most powerful opponent, pushed through the measure to kill the RTA, leaving no one to fund or run the KRM. Vos and Walker have said they believed the rental car tax would prove unsustainable and the RTA would eventually seek a sales tax, which they found unacceptable. Rental car companies also had lobbied heavily against the rental car tax, which they said would be the nation’s highest when combined with current fees.”

  15. CURTIS – Stop your dumping on Walker. There never was a proposal to extend Metra north of Kenosha so Walker and the Republicans didn’t kill it.

    In any event, Metra trains run at a certain velocity so there’s a limit to how far ine wants to ride them. Kenosha is far enough. Even Mtra’s “express” runs take too long to go more than about 40 miles.

    The lies about Walker (or Trump) have rise to the level of A. H.’s lies about the Jews.

  16. There was a connection at Washington St on the south side where each railroads mains were next to each other.

  17. Such a tricky situation. Having worked in PR for a railroad, I understand the non-foamers’ angst about idling locomotives. It would be easier for the RR to justify said sidings if there wasn’t a mountain of evidence out there where the freight RRs turn such sidings into a 24-48-72-hour parking lot. The sounds of locomotives’ air reservoirs, prime movers turning on and off when brakes and APUs need to be recharged, oil is getting too cool, etc., would drive me crazy too. Especially at 4 a.m. Part of the problem, too, is realtors who tell buyers one thing and reality is another. When that happens, the RRs become the bad guy even though they’re just conducting business as usual. I know this idea is considered completely impractical, but build sidings long enough to put the passenger train through the siding, but the siding isn’t long enough to clear the freight. Thus, the trains can meet and everything is forced to keep moving. Dispatchers and Ops planners cannot be tempted to park a freight and forget about it.

  18. Charles, you are mistaken on your information. Johnson’s Wax in Racine was one of the largest supporters of extended train service to Milwaukee. Look at the literature out there on this. But Robin Voss and a few other knuckleheads voted it down. Walker, I am so glad he was voted out, Trump in the next election has to go to. He picks a cabinet member to run Amtrak, and the guy has voted twice to eliminate Amtrak. How brain dead is that, unless the agenda is get rid of Amtrak. If you buy property near the tracks, then you need to expect what comes with that. Or move.

  19. OK, now that it is known that their ideological bias has been derailed re the KRM and RTA, here’s somewhat of a howler….we have a spinster aunt, a home-ed teacher back in the day travelling from Racine, on the hot C&NW, or the North Shore Line to Kiel, Wisc. on either the Chip. before its demise or the Copper Co. Ltd. What’s here the best connection ? And as an historical reminder, back when, one could choose between 3 lines going from Milw. and Racine: the TMER&L, North Shore, and C&NW. A good example from history why the RTA proposal was expedient.

  20. I’ll guess the TMER&L Curtis. Mostly because I don’t know where the North Shore terminated in Milwaukee (unlike Chicago!) and the North Western lakefront depot was too far from the Milwaukee’s for a decent walking connection.

    And the because the TMER&L route west out of downtown Milwaukee is still visible as it can be inferred underneath the distinctive high tension electric pylons running along the East-West Freeway (I-94) so it must’ve come close to the old MILW depot.

  21. The Milw. Elect. Rwy. & Light Co. ran into its downtown Milw. terminal building, which still stands, kitty-corner from the old Milw. Rd. depot at the foot of 3rd. & Everett Sts. Street running for the last few blocks because the tunnel was never completed. The North Shore built the original 6th St. viaduct over the Menominee River valley to its stub end terminal up the hill from the Road’s at, if memory serves, 5th and Michigan. It was fascinating watching an Electroliner thread its way through traffic on the viaduct.
    Anything further about the maiden spinster aunt would be off-topic….

  22. Let’s see…..we used to have Milw, North Shore, and CNW from Chicago to Milwaukee. Now, it is just Amtrak on Milw. What happened to the North Shore and CNW? We killed it. We are the government – Democrats and Republicans and socialists and….. We are the people who like cars better than trains. We are the people who like trains but generally do not actually ride them consistently for various reasons. Yes, the tracks were there (and are still there in some cases) first and silly NIMBYs don’t want the trains but want the financial benefit that come with living near trains (ugh, my head hurts). However, the trains will sit….and idle……and create noise. Facts are facts.

    IDOT is not unusual. Pick your battle. This should have been a long-term strategy back in 1971 when Amtrak took over or when it was still Milw so quit blaming the current political party. Leaders make difficult decisions. Politicians defer decisions for the next generation. Let’s come up with with a working alternative.

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