The Federal Railroad Administration is not expected to release its response to an environmental assessment of Hiwatha Service expansion until this summer.
The departments of transportation of Illinois and Wisconsin want to expand service on the Chicago-Milwaukee route from seven to 10 roundtrips a day and the departments have argued that the environmental assessment has enough information for the FRA to act on the proposed expansion.
But the suburban Chicago communities of Lake Forest, Glenview, Northbrook, Deerfield and Bannockburn have additional questions and want to see the FRA order a complete environmental impact statement.
The focal point of the issue is a proposal to build passing sidings to be used by Canadian Pacific freight trains. The CP freights would take siding to allow Amtrak and Metra trains to pass.
The suburban communities fear the siding will be used to park trains for extended periods of time. They have also raised concerns about pollution, noise, vibration, traffic congestion and a negative effect on property values.
The environmental assessment released last October concluded that the communities along the Hiawatha route would suffer no adverse effects.
But the suburban communities say that the FRA needs to order a more detailed study of the effect the sidings would have on the communities and not just on the railroads.
Lake Forest City Manager Robert Kiely Jr. said the answers to the questions that have been asked will be included in the environmental assessment, which was prepared by Quandel Consultants at the behest of the state transportation agencies.
Tags: Amtrak, Amtrak corridor trains, Amtrak Midwest Corridor trains, Amtrak trains, Amtrak's Hiawatha service, Chicago-Milwaukee, Chicago-Milwaukee route, Hiawatha, Hiawatha expansion, Hiawatha Service, Hiawatha Service expansion, Midwest Corridor trains, Midwest passenger rail service, Midwest rail service