As part of their efforts to solicit public comment for the draft Environmental Impact Study, the Surface Transportation Board will convene a number of public meetings in the coming weeks. The first one is scheduled for this afternoon and evening at the Matteson Holiday Inn.
Scheduled meetings for public comment that are in closest proximity to Park Forest include:
- Monday, August 25, from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Matteson Holiday Inn
- Wednesday, September 10, from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Indiana
- Thursday, September 11, from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Joliet
Residents are strongly encouraged to voice their opinions regarding this proposed acquisition.
To date, the STB has received more than 5,000 correspondences from the public.
On behalf of Park Foresters, the Village has been actively participating in this process by making known its concerns and the adverse impacts that the acquisition would have on our community. These concerns include increased congestion – CN conservatively estimates that the number of trains per day passing through Park Forest will increase by almost 400% from the current 8 average trains per day to more than 32. Noise is also a concern as a substantial increase in the number of trains will adversely impact the quality of life for those Park Foresters with homes in close proximity to the EJ&E railroad tracks.
The Village’s economic development efforts also are a concern as increased trains crossing Western Avenue may hinder the Village’s ability to develop and/or redevelop parcels of property along this major arterial road and in its business park as traffic might seek other routes due to repeated long waiting times for trains to pass across this thoroughfare. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, public safety is a major concern. With a proposed 32 (and likely more) trains per day crossing Western Avenue, one of the Village’s two direct routes used for emergency vehicle transports to hospitals into Chicago Heights and Olympia Fields will be severely compromised. Additionally, the huge increase in rail traffic will likely bring with it a commensurate increase in hazardous materials being transported through Park Forest along the railroad system.