The original concept (which demonstrates that contemporary mapmakers don't get railroads) featured a belt line running to the west of Rockford and Rochelle.
Image retrieved from WIFR TV.
The promoter now wants to change the route.
The route, which previously ran to the west of Rockford, is being moved to the east side of Belvidere because of environmental challenges in Brodhead, Wisconsin. With so many state parks and water obstacles, the prices would have jumped because of added bridges.I remain skeptical of a Chicago Outer Belt that ends anywhere in southern Wisconsin, which has become a railway desert in a prairie country.
Founder Frank Patton says everything worked out for the better.
“If we went all the way through, once we got out of Winnebago County, we couldn’t get into Wisconsin. That was the killer. We ended up with a better route I think. It’s all a part of the process,” says Patton.
Belvidere residents, however, are taking seriously the prospect of an eminent domain taking.
One landowner says she's been in her Boone County home since 1956 and she just found out a train could soon be chugging straight through her property and there may be nothing she can do about it. Dozens like her said they were too angry to go on camera after hearing the news.The former grades of the Northern Illinois Railroad, which was last a Belvidere to Sycamore to DeKalb branch of the Chicago and North Western, and the Gary Route, which was last a Kirkland to DeKalb branch of The Milwaukee Road, are still intact in the prairie, although there has been extensive construction on those grades closer to DeKalb and Sycamore. The Great Lakes Basin plan, however, is to avoid thickly settled areas wherever possible.
Boone County's board says it's too early to make any judgments. Railroad organizers are expected to hold public hearings by April.
If public hearings are coming, more coverage here might be coming.