FRA launches web portal for public to report blocked rail crossings
If you see a railroad grade crossing that is blocked by a stopped or moving train, you can report it. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it has established a new, dedicated webpage for the public and law enforcement to report blocked highway-rail grade crossings: www.fra.dot.gov/blockedcrossings. Just click on this link and follow the directions to report the grade crossing blockage. Please report as many blockages as you see, but remember to report each occurrence only once.
The site requests specific information from users - including date, time, location and duration, and expects it will take an average of three minutes for users to complete the report. FRA will use the information collected to gain a more complete picture of where, when, and for how long such obstructions occur at the nation’s approximately 130,000 public grade crossings, and what impacts result. FRA will share the information with stakeholders, using it to help facilitate local solutions to blocked crossing issues.
Village Technical Letter to Army Corps of Engineers and Village Board Resolution Opposing Proposed Track Extension
A letter was sent to the Army Corps of Engineers with technical comments on the current railroad proposal. The railroad also received a copy of the letter.
On October 21, 2019 the Village Board voted to approve a Village resolution opposing Wisconsin Central Ltd.'s proposed track extension. This resolution has been sent to Wisconsin Central Ltd., as well as the Army Corps of Engineers.
Transportation & Road Improvement Committee Meeting on Proposed Track Extension
The Transportation & Road Improvement Committee of the Village of Hoffman Estates would like to notify residents of a meeting to discuss a proposed Village resolution opposing the proposal by Wisconsin Central Ltd. (also referred to as Canadian National) in its current form. The meeting will be held Monday, October 21, at 7:00 pm, prior to the Village Board meeting. The meeting will be held in the Helen Wozniak Council Chambers, Village of Hoffman Estates, 1900 Hassell Road, Hoffman Estates, IL 60169.
Railroad Responds to Army Corps
On August 30, 2019, the Village received a copy of Wisconsin Central Ltd.’s response to the Army Corps of Engineers letter. Village staff is reviewing the railroad’s responses and has scheduled a meeting with elected representatives in the House and Senate to discuss next steps.
Army Corps of Engineers Extends Deadline for Railroad Response
The Army Corps of Engineers has extended the deadline for Wisconsin Central Ltd., the parent company of CN Railroad, to respond to the Army Corps letter dated July 15, 2019. The railroad’s responses to all comments are now to be submitted to the Army Corps by September 15, 2019.
Army Corps of Engineers Letter to Railroad - July 15, 2019
On July 15, 2019, the Village received a copy of a letter from the Army Corps of Engineers to the Railroad (see copy below). The letter notes that it has been more than two months since the public comments were forwarded to Wisconsin Central Ltd., the parent company of CN Railroad. The Army Corps is requesting additional information from the Railroad in order to complete the review of the permit application.
CN Railroad Public Meeting on Proposed Track Expansion held May 30, 2019
CN held a public meeting on May 30. The meeting was well attended with representatives from the neighborhoods, elected officials and their staff, and the Village. The comments at the meeting to CN and Army Corps staff reinforced those provided to the Army Corps as part of the CN's permit application. CN is expected to respond to the Army Corps on comments received by the middle of July.
Army Corps of Engineers Acknowledgement of Receipt of Public Comments
The Army Corps of Engineers has forwarded all comments received during the Public Input period on the CN permit application to the railroad. CN must submit a written response to the Army Corps. Please see the letter below for more details.
Village Response to Army Corps of Engineers Permit and Plans
Hoffman Estates Mayor William D. McLeod sent a second letter to the Army Corps which can be found below. After reviewing the permit application, staff has identified specific concerns related to drainage, rail noise and vibration, railroad construction, and railroad operation. The Mayor also reiterated a request that the railroad hold a Public Hearing based on these issues.
Army Corps of Engineers Extends Deadline a Second Time for Public Input
The Village has been notified that the Army Corps of Engineers has extended the deadline for Public Input a second time, to Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Be sure to follow the instructions in the Public Notice and reference Application Number LRC-2018-00651. You can view the a copy of the original public notice at the link below. You can also see the notice on the USACE website at:
Army Corps of Engineers Permit and Plans
CN has provided the Village a copy of the Army Corps of Engineers permit and plan documents. They are available to review at the Village Hall. Please call 847-252-5800 to arrange for a time to view the documents.
Army Corps of Engineers Extends Deadline for Public Input
The Village has been notified that the Army Corps of Engineers has extended the deadline for Public Input to Monday, April 15, 2019. Be sure to follow the instructions in the Public Notice and reference Application Number LRC-2018-00651.
CN’s proposal is to extend the siding track which ends south of Shoe Factory Road a distance of 4.27 miles further south. This second track would be to the west of the existing track, closer to the residential neighborhoods in Hoffman Estates.
Several residents of these neighborhoods provided the Village a copy of the Army Corps public notice. Neither CN nor Army Corps staff had informed the Village of the CN proposal. Mayor McLeod then sent a letter to the Army Corps requesting that any decision and review by the Army Corps be deferred until more information was provided about the details of the CN proposal. He requested that a public hearing be held, a request referenced in the Army Corps public notice. The letter also raised the issues of noise, vibration, train volume, safety, and drainage impacts.
Technical Staff Meeting with CN Representatives
The Village requested a meeting with CN representatives to ask questions and seek more information on the proposals to add a second track south of Shoe Factory Road. CN staff along with some of their engineering consultants met with representatives of the Village including engineering staff on March 18, 2019. The meeting summary outlines questions raised by Village staff and the answers provided by CN representatives, along with what is likely to happen next.
What is the Village doing?
The Mayor has sent a letter asking for deferral and public hearing
Village has contacted state and federal railroad agencies
The Village has requested copy of Army Corps permit application including proposed engineering plans, and will review application when received from CN
The Village will submit a comment letter to ACOE highlighting:
A copy of the permit application, including the engineering plans, has been requested but has not been received as of March 22, 2019, thus no technical review has begun
Notify ACOE of drainage issues and updated information that was not included in CN’s permit application
Reiterate concerns about noise, vibration, etc.
What are the technical concerns of the Village relative to the proposed plans?
Details cannot be determined without plans from CN, but the concerns generally include:
Drainage at north end; new floodplain information wasn’t included in analysis, according to CN
Creek relocation extents and impacts
Limits of grading
Track elevation with respect to adjacent properties
Can the Village stop the proposed track addition?
Authority over railroads generally occurs at the federal level of government, not at the local or state level. Village staff has discussed the CN proposal with the Illinois Commerce Commission and the regional Federal Railroad Administration Office – both indicated they do not have regulatory authority in this case.
The Village has contacted the Surface Transportation Board and is awaiting a response.
The Village has reached out to our federal legislators and is coordinating with their offices.
Does the CN proposal involve any property acquisition?
None has been identified by CN, although plans have not been received.
What can residents do?
Submit comments to the Army Corps by the March 29, 2019 deadline
Stay in touch with federal legislators
Sign up for Village email on updates on CN issues at firstname.lastname@example.org
Army Corps of Engineers – Permit Application by Wisconsin Central Ltd. Railroad – March 2019
Wisconsin Central Ltd. Railroad has applied for a permit to install 4.27 miles of main line track from Shoe Factory Road to Spaulding Road. The Army Corps sent a Public Notice to residents along the railroad tracks informing them of the proposed project and how to submit comments.
The Village was not aware of this proposal made by the railroad. Several residents informed Village staff of the proposal on March 4, 2019. Neither the Army Corps nor the railroad contacted the Village about this notice.
The deadline for comments to the Army Corps is March 29, 2019. Instructions on how to submit comments are included in the notice received by residents.
Hoffman Estates Mayor William D. McLeod sent a letter to the Army Corps which can be found below. Due to the lack of details provided in the notice combined with known concerns related to drainage, rail noise and vibration, questions on safety, and undefined impacts based on the information available, the letter requests the Army Corps to defer any action until more information is available. The Mayor also requested a Public Hearing based on these issues.
Engineering plans with more details have been requested from the railroad. At present, we do not have any more details to share than what was in the Army Corps notice. When detailed plans are received, Village staff will review these for issues related to the proposed construction.
As more information becomes available from the railroad and Army Corps it will be posted on this page. If you would like to be placed on the Village email list for this issue, please send a message to CanadianNational@hoffmanestates.org and include “ACOE Permit” in the subject line. You can also use this address to contact us regarding this issue.
This page will be used as the source for information which is available to the Village. Please check back for updates.
Recommended Actions for Residents
- Submit comments to the Army Corps by the March 29, 2019 deadline. While we have requested that action be deferred, it would be best to submit comments based on the original due date. Be sure to follow the instructions in the Public Notice and reference Application Number LRC-2018-00651.
- Comments should include items related to scope of review to be conducted by the Army Corps as described in the notice. If you feel there are other issues such as noise, vibration, etc. these should be included in your comments.
If you feel a Public Hearing is needed, please state that in the comments to the Army Corps.
- The Village does not have direct control or regulatory authority over railroad operations. Federal agencies such as the Surface Transportation Board and Federal Railway Administration have this authority. Please feel free to contact these agencies if desired to share your comments. Contact information is listed at the bottom of this page.
We would suggest you contact your Federal elected officials regarding this proposal. Click the link below to be directed to the Village Clerk’s page for information on how to contact these representatives.
* Who Represents You in Illinois
Contact Canadian National
Canadian National (CN) may be contacted if you have questions or concerns regarding the rail line.
General Contacts - Public Inquiries
Email Public Inquiries
935 de La Gauchetière Street West
The railroad is responsible for maintenance of the crossing on Shoe Factory Road. While the crossing is located in the Village, the Village has no jurisdictional authority over railroad operations. This is covered at the State level by the Illinois Commerce Commission and at the Federal level by the Surface Transportation Board.
Contact the Federal Surface Transportation Board
You may submit comments to the Federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) via mail, electronically, or in person.
Surface Transportation Board
395 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20423
To submit comments electronically, please visit the STB website and click E-FILING link at the top.
If you have questions or comments you wish to additionally discuss with the Village about CN projects, you may contact us by email at CanadianNational@hoffmanestates.org. The Village does not have the authority to regulate railroad operations.