Durbin Meets With STB In Support Of Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) Member and former Chairman Daniel Elliot to express his support for the Illinois Tollway’s petition to the STB regarding their ongoing dispute with Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) over the Elgin O’Hare Western Access (EOWA) project.  The project creates new western road access to O’Hare International Airport along with a new western bypass around the airport.
“Years in the making, the EOWA project will bring significant benefits to the region and its economy. That is why it has been designated as a ‘Project of National and Regional Significance’ by the Department of Transportation,” said Durbin.  “I will continue to work with the STB to move the EOWA project forward, which will create jobs and enhance transportation infrastructure in Illinois and across the country.”
Despite negotiating for years with the Tollway on the land transfer needed to complete two of the EOWA project’s final phases, CP pulled out of negotiations in 2015 and announced that it would no longer convey any property rights to the Tollway for the project.  As a result, construction on the project could be halted later this year.  To keep up with EOWA’s construction schedule and avoid a delay that could cost an additional $200,000 per month, the Tollway is asking the STB to intercede in the dispute and provide the Tollway with the authority to move forward with the project’s next phase, which involves the construction of bridges over CP’s rail tracks as part of the Western Access Interchange into O’Hare.
With $140 million in federal funding already invested in the project, CP’s unwillingness to work with the Tollway and other stakeholders on a path forward jeopardizes the significant benefits that the project will bring to the region.  The project, combined with the surrounding development, is expected to create as many as 65,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2040. Increased connectivity with other modes of transportation and dramatic reductions in congestion and delays will save drivers $145 million annually in time and fuel costs.
Mr. Elliot served as the STB’s chairman until January 25, 2017 when President Trump named Ann Begeman Acting Chairman.