News & Reviews News Wire Chicago council approves deal allowing Norfolk Southern to move ahead with yard expansion

Chicago council approves deal allowing Norfolk Southern to move ahead with yard expansion

By | February 1, 2023

Alderwoman withdraws opposition, saying neighbors are ‘okay with’ project

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Aerial view of railroad yard and surrounding neighborhood
Aerial view of railroad yard and surrounding neighborhood
Norfolk Southern’s 47th Street Yard, with the area of planned expansion directly to its south. Google Earth

CHICAGO — Norfolk Southern’s effort to expand its 47th Street Yard on Chicago’s South Side has finally cleared a regulatory hurdle from the Chicago City Council.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the council voted today (Wednesday, Feb. 1) to approve the land deal necessary for the railroad to expand the yard southward by adding intermodal parking between Garfield Boulevard and 59th Street.

As part of that effort, the council needed to approve the transfer of streets and alleys in that area to NS. Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor of the 20th Ward — which includes the area around the yard — had blocked that deal for several months and did so again in a Jan. 18 meeting, questioning the railroad’s hiring practices and the expansion’s impact on the neighborhood [see “NS efforts to expand Chciago rail yard again blocked …,” Trains News Wire, Jan. 21, 2023].

But in Wednesday’s meeting, after condemning the company for not engaging with her on its plans, she said she was dropping her opposition because the yard’s neighbors are “okay with it, so I’m okay with it,” according to the Tribune.

The measure — supported by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot — then passed on a unanimous voice vote.

The railroad has said the $150 million expansion plan will lead to good-paying jobs, as well as work for local contractors and other businesses that benefit from the yard.






12 thoughts on “Chicago council approves deal allowing Norfolk Southern to move ahead with yard expansion

  1. Not mentioned in the Trains byline is that this was the last City Council meeting before city wide elections in the end of February. If the Alderman had pushed it out any further, it wouldn’t come up for a vote until after the election. And this election is a major one.

    The Mayor, Lori Lightfoot and all 50 wards are up in this election. You see? Can’t go into an election with all those votes left on the table.

    Cash perhaps? But in this case it was strictly political peer-pressure.

    1. Are you saying that the incumbents aren’t almost all guaranteed certain re-election in a political machine town like Chicago, where the dead have been voting in record numbers since at least 1960? I hardly think many of those running are really concerned they might lose; incumbents have all the advantages. But, maybe with a miracle or two Mayor Lightweight will prove to have long coattails and drag down a lot of her friends down with her should she actually lose. Things being what they are, though, I’d say it’s highly unlikely. Don’t forget they also will be getting the convicted felon and illegal immigrant votes to boost their numbers, and all the other little tricks they employ to insure permanent one-party rule. It is, as Mr. Hull stated, the Chicago Way.

  2. One thing we know – when a politician like Ms. Taylor claims that NS didn’t “engage” with her, and says how displeased she is about that, you can bet your paycheck that the exact opposite is what really happened. I wonder under what expense category bribes are listed in the NS ledger books?
    And we also know that the statement about the neighbors being ok with the deal is pure BS because there aren’t any neighbors left. Google street view photos show one house in the far southwest corner of the area, in a photo from 2019. No other residential structures exist.

  3. This is still VERY bad news for all of us who live and work in the Chicago area. The damn terminal is in the WRONG place. This means more highway congestion and air pollution in multiple Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs. Containers being delivered 40 miles away down to Will County where most of the warehouses are now are still going to clog and plug up I-55, the Stevenson Expressway and I-90, the Dan Ryan Expressway. So much for rail transport being environmentally friendly. That piece of propaganda is a BIG joke in Chicagoland (i.e., pure B.S.). There are better terminal sites in Eastern Will County and along the NS in Kankakee County. For those of you not from Chicago Kankakee is adjacent to the Will County warehouse developments and Kankakee County needs the economic development.

  4. Is this any way related to the Amtrak proposal to acquire more yard tracks south of the present Amtrak maintenance north of the Chicago river?

    1. Interesting thought, I’m assuming the DOT/FRA/Amtrak will be making another round of their Infrastructure award grant announcements with a chunk headed to the Chicago area now that Northeast tunnels got there moment in the sun.

    2. I don’t believe so. I believe the area Amtrak wants is the former MP/C&EI Canal St Yard (I think that was the name of it) that is located by the intersection of I-55 and I-94-90

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