Land deal hailed as 'substantial step' for western access to O'Hare

Illinois Tollway and Canadian Pacific Railroad leaders agreed Wednesday to resolve their disputes over acquisition of CP land to build a ring road around O'Hare International Airport and allow the project to advance.

"It's a substantial step forward in western access" to O'Hare, Chairman Robert Schillerstrom said.

Since 1985, "our community has pushed to get this," Elk Grove Mayor and tollway Director Craig Johnson said.

There are no details yet - including how much the tollway would pay to acquire property belonging to the railroad at one of its busiest yards near Bensenville.

Instead, the two entities approved a letter of intent that creates a framework for a final deal both hope will be reached soon.

It's "a significant step toward making western access to and from O'Hare a reality and a significant step toward resolving issues related to the routing of (the ring road) through CP's Bensenville Yard," a joint statement indicated.

Both sides had been negotiating for months after disputes over the acquisition.

The tollway is seeking to build bridges for a ring road on the west side of O'Hare over CP tracks near one of the railroad's busiest yards. The toll road dubbed I-490 would connect to the Tri-State Tollway in Franklin Park and Jane Addams Tollway in Des Plaines. In the middle it would connect with Route 390, the former Elgin-O'Hare Expressway that is being extended into the airport.

CP officials have contended the tollway's demands would result in shutting down the rail yard for days and disrupting freight traffic across the region and country.

The tollway said the railroad was being unreasonable and threatening an infrastructure project that will ease congestion and create thousands of jobs

The initial deal reached Wednesday also stated that the railroad and tollway would withdraw litigation against the other that started in 2015.

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