Tollway spat with Canadian Pacific heats up over land for O'Hare bypass

Editor's note: The caption credit indicating the source of the attached photograph has been corrected.

On the heels of the Illinois tollway's prediction of dire economic consequences unless it acquires Canadian Pacific Railroad property near Bensenville, CP is warning of disruptions to national rail operations if the agency prevails.

Both sides want U.S. Surface Transportation Board members to rule in their favor in a dispute over land the tollway seeks for bridges supporting the future I-490, a road on the western side of O'Hare International Airport. The western bypass would connect to I-90 near Des Plaines and I-294 in Franklin Park and link to an extension of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway/Route 390 in the center.

In documents filed Friday, CP attorneys argued the railroad can't give up "critical and irreplaceable" property that is part of the "fragile and already congested heart of the North American rail network." Construction would shut down the mainline track for hours, disrupting interstate operations and jeopardizing the fluidity of an already strained network, CP contends.

The tollway appealed to transportation board members in November asking them to intervene, stating that discussions with CP about the location of the bypass were proceeding normally until the railroad sued and ended negotiations.

Millions of federal and state funds are committed to the project and "any delays at this point will cost the public millions of dollars," officials stated.

CP counters that its executives were upfront about objections to losing vital land.

The transportation board is considering the arguments and has the option of ruling quickly or requiring more evidence.

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