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Archive for the ‘EJ&E/Canadian National’ Category

Without consensus on safety, liquefied natural gas needs another look

The Daily Herald and leaders of several of our suburbs were among those arguing years ago that crude oil shipments by train should be restricted to newer, stronger tank cars that are more likely to withstand a derailment or crash without rupturing, exploding and burning.

That viewpoint largely prevailed, with new requirements unveiled in 2015 that mitigate the risk.

But now the federal government is upping the ante, exposing towns along freight rail lines to potential new danger with the judgment that now that tank cars are safer, they can be used to move material that is more volatile.

The U.S. Department of Transportation over the summer authorized railroads to haul liquefied natural gas around the country, even in the face of the National Transportation Safety Board questioning whether doing so would be safe.

Natural gas is a chameleon, turning liquid at -260 degrees and taking up 1/600th of the space it requires as a gas, making it cheaper to transport. If the gas gets overheated and the tank ruptures, such as following a derailment or crash, it can explode violently into a fireball that will keep burning until the fuel is gone.

Read on here.

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A new federal rule allows liquefied natural gas to be transported by train across the U.S., sparking concerns from Barrington and other suburbs.

A new player, liquefied natural gas, has joined the list of hazardous materials cruising through Illinois by train — a move the federal government says is safe but raises fears of out-of-control fires and explosions for some suburbs.

This summer, the U.S. Department of Transportation authorized railroads to haul liquefied natural gas (LNG) across the country.

Prior to approval, more than 460 entities commented — mostly critically — on the plan, including Barrington, which is crisscrossed by the Union Pacific and Canadian National railroads.

The potential for a catastrophe “is quite acute,” village officials stated. “An uncontrolled LNG release involving fire stemming from a derailment scenario must burn itself out as there is no practical way to extinguish it.”

Federal officials are confident that upgraded DOT-113 tank cars with double shells and thick carbon steel can safely contain any spills.

New requirements, such as remote monitoring of tank car pressure, will “provide for the safe transportation of LNG by rail to more parts of the country where this energy source is needed,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao stated.

Read on here.

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Our Board of Trustees holds their monthly meeting this evening at 6:30 PM. Some of the topics for discussion and/or vote include:

  • [Vote] A Resolution Authorizing Execution of an Intergovernmental Agreement Amongthe Villages of Bartlett, Hoffman Estates, Barrington Hills, Barrington, Deer Park, Lake Zurich, Hawthorn Woods, Mundelein, Vernon Hills, Mettawa, Green Oaks and the Cityof North Chicago for Engineering Work to Complete the Recertification of a QuietCorridor Along the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad Res 20 –
  • [Vote] An Ordinance Granting an Amendment to the Existing Special Use Permit for anExpansion of the Parking Lot at 160 Hawthorne Road Ordinance 20 –
  • [Vote] An Ordinance Approving a Map Amendment Rezoning the Property Located at32W 393 Algonquin Road from R1 Single Family Residence District to B-3 GeneralBusiness District Ordinance 20 –
  • [Vote] A Resolution Authorizing the Execution of a Retail Sales Agreement with AVISystems, Inc. for Audio Streaming Equipment and Software for Village MeetingsResolution 20 –

A copy of their agenda can be viewed and downloaded here. To (try to) listen to the meeting, dial 508-924-1464.

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The Canadian National Railroad will be closing the track crossing on Main Street (Lake-Cook Road) just west of Lageschulte Street from 9:00 AM Monday August 24th through Friday August 28th to complete necessary crossing repairs. This closure will impact both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. A signed detour route will be in place during this closure.

In recent months, this crossing has been the cause of many flat tires and likely some bent rims, so this will be a welcome, minor inconvenience.

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Work is scheduled to begin today on a bridge deck overlay with joint repairs on Higgins Road (Route 72) over the CN Railroad in Hoffman Estates, the Illinois Department of Transportation said.

During the project, westbound Higgins Road between just west of Sutton Road (Route 59) and just after the railroad bridge will be reduced to one lane. The work is expected to be completed in June.

Drivers can expect delays and should allow extra time for trips through this area. 

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We will take the Federal Railroad Administration at its word that it wants to hear from us regarding how long we get stuck, repeatedly, at rail crossings in the suburbs.

And so, it is our civic duty to tell them.

We’re not being facetious. Being continuously hung up at crossings is a quality-of-life issue. At best, it can be inconvenient. At its absolute worst, it can be deadly, if police, fire and paramedics are prevented from getting to a scene — or a hospital — quickly.

The FRA has recently started a website asking people to report lengthy delays they experience at rail crossings, where a milelong freight is crawling past at the speed of … snails. 

Read the complete Daily Herald editorial here.

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Fuming in the idling car while an interminable freight train steals 20 minutes you’ll never get back? Get revenge — or at least get on the record — by reporting the delay to a new Federal Railroad Administration database.

The agency recently launched the website www.fra.dot.gov/blockedcrossings with the intent of capturing data on blocked crossings to help identify chronic situations where trains cause traffic jams and hamstring first-responders for long stretches of time.

Freight trains have grown in length by about 25% since 2008, with trains on some railroads averaging 1.2 to 1.4 miles in 2017, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Read more here.

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Residents in Hoffman Estates and Elgin are enlisting elected officials in their fight to block plans for a second railroad track beginning here at Shoe Factory Road in Hoffman Estates and running south to Spaulding Road in Elgin.

Hoffman Estates and Elgin residents fighting an expansion of Canadian National Railway tracks near their homes are enlisting federal, state and local leaders in their efforts to raise concerns with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which could issue a permit for the project later this month.

CN, through its subsidiary Wisconsin Central Limited, wants to build a second line of railroad track spanning 4.27 miles from Shoe Factory Road in Hoffman Estates to Spaulding Road in Elgin. Together with existing track, the project would create a 6.1-mile stretch of double track.

According to the proposal, the double track would allow the railroad to boost “fluidity” and reduce train idling. CN said in its permit application that it expects to run an additional nine trains per day in 2020.

Both the Hoffman Estates and Hanover Township boards have passed resolutions objecting to CN’s plans.

Read more here.

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Barrington’s budget for next year includes funding for projects such as second-phase engineering for a proposed Northwest Highway underpass at Canadian National Railway tracks near Lake Zurich Road. Officials said a grant will pay for the engineering.

Barrington will have a $36 million budget for next year that includes funding for a short road to a Metra station parking lot, new police squad cars and a water main upgrade.

Three projects, including second-phase engineering for a proposed Northwest Highway underpass at the Canadian National Railway tracks near Lake Zurich Road, will be paid with grants received by the village.

About $9.6 million has been set aside for infrastructure work and equipment purchases in 2020. Along with the engineering for the planned Northwest Highway underpass, the to-do list includes a Flint Creek restoration project and Hart Road water main reconstruction.

Money also has been budgeted for construction of an entrance from Northwest Highway into the north commuter parking lot for the downtown train station and the purchases of three police squad cars and a fire department ambulance.

Read more here.

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Barrington Unit District 220’s lawsuit against Hoffman Estates and the developers of the Plum Farms proposal for the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72 was dismissed this week . (Click on image to enlarge)

Barrington Unit District 220’s lawsuit against Hoffman Estates and the developers of the stalled

Barrington Unit District 220’s lawsuit against Hoffman Estates and the developers of the Plum Farms proposal for the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72 was dismissed this week.

proposal at the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72 has been dismissed by a Cook County circuit court judge.

But the question of how much that lawsuit had to do with the residential and commercial project’s idleness for the past 2½ years has yet to be answered.

Members of the Plum Farms development partnership did not respond to a request for comment, and Hoffman Estates officials said they haven’t heard from them, either, since the lawsuit’s dismissal on Monday.

As proposed, Plum Farms would include single-family homes on 145 acres previously disconnected from Barrington Hills. The remainder of the land would combine multifamily housing and commercial development.

Hoffman Estates’ development agreement limits Plum Farms to 1,250 dwelling units of various types, but the most recent plan submitted by the developer calls for only 1,035.

Read more from the Daily Herald here.

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