“We will continue to turn out in record numbers until we make standard a new precedent that puts people before freight” 

Barrington, IL (June 30, 2008)
Barrington Communities Against CN Rail Congestion Coalition 

More than 500 residents from along the 198 mile EJ&E rallied Sunday afternoon with local officials and called on Congress to oppose the proposed acquisition of the EJ&E by CN and pass federal legislation that protect communities and their interests.

Members from the Barrington Communities Against CN Rail Congestion and TRAC (The Regional Answer to Canadian National), two groups of Mayors representing dozens of communities, kicked off the first of several planned rallies to address CN’s proposed acquisition of the EJ&E. Participants included elected leaders from throughout the Chicagoland area including State Representative Mike Fortner (95th District), Barrington Mayor Karen Darch, Lake Zurich Mayor John Tolomei, West Chicago Mayor Michael Kwasman, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, Deer Park Mayor Scott Gifford, Tower Lakes President Kathleen Leitner, Barrington Township Supervisor Gene Dawson, Cuba Township Supervisor Dave Nelson, Lake County Board Member Steve Mansour, and several Village Trustees from impacted communities. Hundreds of people stood in the rain at Barrington Memorial Park with yard signs expressing their opposition to CN with such sentiment as “”We the People Have Rights and Right of Way Too!”

 

 

“We will continue to turn out in record numbers until we make standard a new precedent that puts people before freight,” said Darch. “The time has come for Congress to act and represent the interests of American citizens in 21st century communities.”

“We need to take a fresh look at the relationship between railroads and communities,” added Weisner. “This is no longer the wide open west, so our concerns need to be dealt with appropriately and not ignored.”

The two coalitions have been petitioning Congress to intervene and fully assess the safety and environmental implications to local communities that will result if the Surface Transportation Board (STB) approves the deal. Senators Barack Obama, Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Melissa Bean have openly opposed CN’s planned purchase of the EJ&E as proposed.

Mayor Kwasman added, “We are tired of asking. It’s time to demand that our U.S. Congress take action, and take action now.”

“Congress needs to make railroads pay the freight for the benefits they get to offset the negative impacts they create,” said Mayor Tolomei.

More than three dozen communities, municipalities and counties opposed to CN were represented at Sunday’s rally and residents also questioned Congress’ commitment to acting on behalf of those who stand to be negatively impacted.

“There is a fear growing,” said Patsy Thalmeimer, a resident of Barrington, “is our federal government really working for us? We are trusting in them to represent our concerns, and the best interest of our safety and economy by introducing legislation to fairly balance the needs of moving commerce with the impact to not just our community, but neighborhoods throughout the country.”

In addition, CN must demonstrate a commitment to improving its safety record, which raised ‘serious concerns’ from Canada’s oversight committee, and federal legislators must create new rail laws that mandate CN and other railroads to pay for and have in place all necessary mitigation measures before an increase in freight traffic begins.

Mayor Weisner commended everyone for their resilience and vowed there will be “rally after rally down the [EJ&E] line” until Congress takes the concerns of the communities seriously, and takes action.

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