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Transportation Jobs in Chicago Created by EJ&E Railway Sale

Posted on January 6, 2009

More transportation jobs in Chicago could soon be created because of a railroad deal.

Canadian National Railway
recently won the right to purchase EJ&E Railway from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

On the up side, the Chicago Metropolis 2020 has estimated the project could create 600 new jobs, a welcome notion while other jobs are being cut, and add $60 million to the local economy each year, while 80 communities will see a reduction in rail traffic. On the down side, according to an article by the Chicago Tribune, the sale will result in increased rail traffic Waukegan, Barrington, Aurora, Joliet and east into Indiana.

“If all this were about creating local winners and losers at the crossing gates, we’d probably argue to give the whole thing a pass,” the article states. “But this is about a broad regional benefit.”

“The deal will create a seamless rail route around Chicago, reducing freight traffic delays,” the article continues. “It will promote more use of rail freight, reducing the number of trucks hauling cargo. It will spur rail infrastructure improvements. It will create new opportunities for commuter lines.”

The sale could still face problems, particularly that Village of Barrington challenged the decision, newly-elect President Barack Obama opposed the deal as a senator and the sale will close 23 days after a deadline set by U.S. Steel, which owns EJ&E.

Canadian National originally offered to pay $300 for the sale, including $100 million to upgrade the line and $60 million to mitigate the impact on surrounding towns. However, the Transportation Board requested more money, including funds to build overpasses and underpasses. While railroads usually pay 5 percent to 10 percent services, Canadian National has been asked to pay much more.

Meanwhile, Chicago is looking ahead to Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency, which should help to further move freight more quickly through Chicago and reduce crossing delays for local residents.

“Chicago does need the broad answer that CREATE would provide,” the article adds. “The immediate concern, though, is to complete the CN deal. That can get done, if local communities, political and business leaders act in good faith.”