Duckworth asks regulators to aid tollway in dispute with Canadian Pacific

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth has asked federal regulators to intervene on behalf of the Illinois Tollway in a standoff with the Canadian Pacific Railroad over land for a western bypass road to O'Hare International Airport.

Property at Canadian Pacific's Bensenville rail yard is key to the tollway's plan to build the bypass on the airport's western edge, connecting to the Jane Addams Tollway in Des Plaines and the Tri-State Tollway near Franklin Park.

Canadian Pacific argues that losing land at the yard would hurt its operations and impinge on future growth. The railroad sued the tollway in 2015, claiming it was violating laws protecting interstate commerce. The case was dismissed.

Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, took the tollway's side Friday in a letter to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, saying that "through their misleading actions and current legal tactics," Canadian Pacific had "endangered a vital infrastructure project" that is expected to create thousands of jobs.

Duckworth, who is running to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, asked Surface Transportation Board members "to consider intervening in this matter to ensure the project's completion."

Tollway Chairman Bob Schillerstrom said Thursday negotiations with the railroad had stalled and "in a very, very short amount of time without the land or some likelihood we'll be able to attain it, the project will be stopped or dramatically slowed."

Both sides accuse the other of not acting in good faith.

In a June 20 letter to the transportation board, Canadian Pacific President Keith Creel said the tollway had failed to consider alternative designs that would have a lesser impact on the yard. He added that 291 jobs in the region were at risk if the railroad complied with the agency's plans.

However, tollway officials said the railroad had been negotiating amicably for years until recently and now was refusing to discuss the project. Duckworth concurred, saying Canadian Pacific had "unexpectedly reneged on the deal."

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