Environmental Impact Statement for Rail Acquisition
A year-long effort to complete a complex and controversial Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for the Surface Transportation Board (STB) began when the Canadian National Railway Company (CN) applied to the STB to acquire a small, regional rail line with lines running through northeastern Chicago and northwestern Indiana. CN wanted to divert many of its transcontinental trains away from the heavily congested inner Chicago rail network to less-congested belt line tracks owned by the Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway, which required STB approval.
The combination of a heavily populated area that included a variety of unique environmental and industrial features resulted in a massive effort and a five-volume final EIS. HDR hosted more than 7,000 interested stakeholders at a series of public meetings to explain the proposed rail acquisition and obtain input from residents in the 60 communities along the rail lines. Concerns from safety to air quality, transportation and environmental issues required explanation in the final document which led to STB approval of the merger with more than 170 conditions to protect the public and the environment based on data from the EIS.