Freight train congestion in Chicago is nothing new.  The Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway promoted itself as "The Peoria Gateway" and solicited traffic on the basis of avoiding Chicago.  What's left of the Minnie and Louie is now secondary lines of Union Pacific.  But its operational concept lent itself to some large number of Generic Bankrupt Prairie and Peoria model railroads for which a key feature is a major classification yard in Peoria.  The Toledo Peoria and Western also attempted to circumvent Chicago by way of Peoria.  These days, it promotes itself as a short line.

New York Central built its own Chicago bypass, the Kankakee Belt, and into Penn Central days a few cars did avoid Chicago.  There was a little problem with division of revenue: if a western carrier interchanged cars at Chicago rather than Ladd, Illinois its cut would be smaller and New York Central's larger.  Railroads are reluctant to short-haul themselves.

Thus we see Canadian National acquiring and upgrading the Elgin Joliet and Eastern (once built by U.S. Steel to connect the steel plants of Gary, Joliet, and North Chicago) so as to avoid Chicago and keep all the revenue for itself.  (Canadian National is the only railroad in North America to reach the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts.)

There's still that Chicago congestion, and the flow of grain, ethanol, Powder River coal, and Bakken crude just keeps coming.  And thus comes the Great Lakes Basin railroad?
A group of businessmen are looking to construct the largest new set of railroad track in more than 100 years and the historic project could be coming through the Stateline.

Great Lakes Basin headed by Frank Patton wants to build a railroad bypass to get cargo around Chicago’s congestion. The new set of tracks would begin in Northwest Indiana, extending through Illinois and up through Winnebago County, ending in Orfordville, Wisconsin. The five track wide project would free space in the nation’s rail hub and have a big impact on the Stateline.
Orfordville? As in southwest of Janesville on the Wisconsin and Southern? And five tracks wide? Throughout? There are four tracks on the Powder River line, many of them in use for parking trains until the mines can get to them. You don't really deal with Chicago congestion by parking trains outside Chicago. Let's see the formal business plan first.
The $6 billion project, which is being paid for with 100% private money, could mean big things for Rockford. The plan would be to relocate the downtown Rockford rail yard from its current spot off of South Main.
Would that yard be for interchange with CNR? Trains out of Iowa on CNR have their own bypass, the former Elgin Joliet and Eastern.
While the exact route has not yet been determined, early plans show the line heading north along Meridian Road in Western Winnebago County. Patton says beginning next month, his group will start compiling all of the information they need, including maps and studies. Once completed in three to six moths, the information will be turned into the National Surface Transportation Board.

If that board approves the project, an environmental impact study will be completed. Then actual construction on the tracks can begin. Patton is confident his rail building plan an subsequent Winnebago County job building plan will be okayed and hopes to have construction completed in 2018.
The substance of the plan sounds a lot like the old Chicago Milwaukee and Gary, which The Milwaukee Road envisioned as a Chicago bypass (but using existing Milwaukee Road trackage north of Rockford).  That line ran through DeKalb, where portions of it that are not a bike trail now have housing or retail built on it.

Here's a ferroequinologist who has been thinking about Chicago bypasses.  I hope the Great Lakes Basin plan is serious, and carefully thought out.  Three to six months to get the maps together?  Then the land speculators strike, right?

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