Village must keep its focus in CN fight

Published9/25/2008 12:06 AM

I attended the 8/26 hearing covering the takeover of the EJ&E RR by the Canadian National RR. I live within a stone's throw of the EJ&E tracks. I'm obviously concerned about the increase in daily rail traffic over this line.

I observed several Lake Zurich officials make comments to the Surface Transportation Board at this meeting. Both Village President Tolomei and Village Administrator Vitas appeared on message with their objections to CN's proposed takeover. However, I cringed at the statements made by trustees Johnson and Branding. The booklet handed out to everyone attending the hearing stated the hearing's subject was about the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed CN acquisition of the EJ&E. Mr. Johnson rambled on in an emotional tone about trains running from Prince Rupert Island, BC, Canada through Lake Zurich to Memphis and beyond to Europe, a highly unlikely scenario. He also engaged in Canada bashing since the CN is a Canadian corporate entity although 60% owned by American stockholders. Ms. Branding argued that U.S. Homeland Security is doing nothing about cargo that, again, will be coming from Prince Rupert Island, BC through Lake Zurich. Actually, the cargo originates in Asia, mostly China, not Canada. Far more foreign cargo destined for the United States comes through not Canada but through ports up and down both U.S. coasts and the U.S. Gulf from all over the globe. In other words, Canadian ports are not the single security problem. It exists on a much larger scale here at U.S ports of entry. None of these trustee's points were relevant to the hearing's subject, the environment.


Our village has already spent into five figures to fight the takeover. Neither Johnson's nor Branding's presentations were on message. Let's be on point when petitioning our federal government. I personally don't like our chances of winning this battle from what I've seen or heard. Perhaps a course of mitigation with the CN might be our best path to success in this battle. The City of Joliet appears to have succeeded in their agreement with the CN.

Bob Schayer

Lake Zurich

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