Great Lakes Basin Rail Line

Background on the Project:

Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc. (GLBT) plans to file an application seeking authority from the Surface Transportation Board to construct and operate an approximately 278-mile rail line. According to GLBT, the proposed rail line would extend generally from La Porte, Indiana through Illinois to Milton, Wisconsin and would connect with existing Class I railroads. GLBT states that the project is intended to relieve Chicago-area shipping congestion by creating a bypass for through traffic not destined for or originating in the Chicago area.

Background on the Surface Transportation Board:

The Surface Transportation Board is an independent adjudicatory and economic-regulatory agency charged by Congress with resolving railroad rate and service disputes and reviewing proposed railroad mergers.

In the context of the proposed rail line, the Board will ultimately be the deciding body on if the railroad will be approved, denied, or approved with alternatives.

Currently the Board is reviewing proposed route alternatives brought forward through their comprehensive outreach program. The Board has also requested alternative routes for the GLBT. The deadline for GLBT to provide route alternatives has been extended to September 20, 2016.

NIRPC’s Role with the Surface Transportation Board, the EIS, and Great Lakes Basin Transportation:

NIRPC has been asked by the Board to inform the process of the EIS. This means that NIRPC will provide data or analyses that are pertinent to the potential environmental impacts of the railroad. The proposed project is unique in that GLBT has not asked for any public funding. This means that NIRPC has no federal or state provided legal authority over the project. Government oversight of the project is strictly the responsibility of the Surface Transportation Board. NIRPC is committed to providing the Board with the best and most recent data and other analyses so that they can make a decision that is well-informed concerning the residents of Northwestern Indiana, as well as the other regions affected by GLBT’s proposal.

How to Get Involved:

The Board has provided a lot of information on the project. More information can be found here:

If you are interested in making a public comment or attending a public meeting, you can find more information here:

If you have any additional questions on NIRPC’s role with the Surface Transportation Board or GLBT; or if you have an idea for data that you would like to see included as part of the conversation concerning this project, please contact James Winters, Regional Planner and Policy Analyst, at