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The federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) has told Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc. that it needs to provide details on alternatives to its preferred alignment for the company's proposed 278-mile freight-rail line around Chicago.In a July 5 letter from the STB's Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA), the board told the company that it must submit by Aug. 29 the alternative alignments — or an explanation if the company can't provide alternatives — before the OEA can issue a "final scope of study" for the environmental impact statement (EIS)."In addition to the route initially proposed by an applicant when the EIS process begins, the board's EISs typically evaluate a number of proposed potential alternative alignments and more minor route various, as well as the no-action (no-build) alternative," wrote OEA Director Victoria Rutson.Great Lakes Basin Transportation has proposed a rail line that would run from southern Wisconsin, through Illinois to northwestern Indiana. The company believes that the private line would help alleviate rail traffic congestion around the Chicago area."We are proceeding to respond to the board's inquiries," railroad counsel Michael Blaszak told The Times of Northwest Indiana in response to the OEA's letter.The OEA has been holding public meetings on the proposal in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. To date, the office has received more than 3,500 comments, according to Rutson's letter.Last month, the STB extended the comment period to July 15.
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