STB extends comment period for proposed Great Lakes line, proposes rate case rulemaking

The Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) has extended the public comment deadline on a draft environmental study for Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc.’s proposed freight-rail line from June 15 to July 15.

In April, the OEA issued a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement and initiate the scoping process for the proposed 278-mile line, which would run through Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. The office later extended the public comment period from May 16 to June 15. However, no additional extensions will be granted, STB officials said in a decision issued June 10.

Great Lakes Basin plans to construct the line around the Chicago area — from LaPorte, Ind., through Illinois to Milton, Wis. — to speed up freight transportation moves and provide additional capacity for growing rail traffic, according to the company’s website. The line would alleviate shipping congestion by creating a bypass for traffic not destined for or originating in the Chicago area, Great Lakes Basin officials believe.

Meanwhile, the STB also has issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that outlines measures aimed at expediting the board’s handling of rate cases.

The Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015 instructed the STB to initiate a proceeding to assess ways to expedite litigation for parties, including procedures in rate cases, such as stand-alone rate cases. The board plans to explore several ideas.

Through the ANPR, the STB is seeking comments from stakeholders until Aug. 1. Replies are due Aug. 29.

“The Reauthorization Act prompts us to work creatively with our stakeholders to explore ways to fast-track these important, but highly-complex matters,” said STB Chairman Daniel Elliott III in a press release.

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