Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker dropped by Glenview Village Hall Thursday afternoon, December 12, for a private meet-and-greet with citizens and legislators who fought against a proposal to build freight train Holding Tracks through Glenview and Lake Forest. The proposal was a part of a larger $200-plus million project to expand Amtrak Hiawatha service between Chicago and Milwaukee from seven to 10 daily roundtrips.
"We highly value Amtrak service to our community and region, and we are very thankful for Governor Pritzker's and Acting IDOT Secretary Omer Osman's support to remove the freight train Holding Track from the project and seek reasonable alternatives to expand the Amtrak Hiawatha service," Glenview ACTION Committee Chairman Dave Rahija stated.
In a May 10, 2019 letter to state Senators Laura Fine (D-9th) and Julie Morrison (D-29th), Illinois Department of Transportation Acting Secretary Omar Osman stated that "IDOT will not agree to freight train holding tracks in either Glenview of Lake Forest" as part of the project.
"I am so proud to not only be a part of, but also represent a community that rose to a challenge and made sure the concerns of its residents were protected. These concerns included safety, the environment and access to our local high school and hospital," Senator Laura Fine said.
Added Morrison, "I represent both Lake Forest and Glenview and when you have both grassrots and municipalities reach out, your job is defined."
Initially proposed in 2015, the two-mile long Holding Track would have been built next to the existing Union Pacific tracks through six residential neighborhoods in west Glenview and would have created significant negative impacts, including traffic congestion, diesel emissions, noise, vibration and other environmental issues. Another three-mile long Holding Track through Lake Forest would have had similar negative environmental impacts on their city, especially on the Middlefork Savanna.
The Glenview Village Board of Trustees voted in October 2018 to oppose the Holding Track and committed funds for public education and consultants to have them eliminated from the project. Thousands of residents attended public meetings, signed petitions and submitted objections to the proposal.
"While the Village of Glenview's focus has been to eliminate the Holding Track from the project, Glenview continues to support passenger rail efficiencies and improvements in the region," Village President Jim Patterson stated.
Among the suggestions provided, Glenview has supported the addition of Amtrak rail cars; purchase of new, larger rail cars; installation of bi-directional signaling on the Union Pacific Milwaukee Subdivision line; and the improvement of the UP Mil Sub line to separate freight and passenger rail traffic in the region. Glenview has shared the results of its rail capacity analysis report with IDOT and WisDOT.
For more information and a timeline of events, go to: glenview.il.us/Pages/hiawatha.aspx