“Overnight, home values of 100,000 homeowners along the EJ&E will plummet”

Opponents of EJ & E sale march to Wednesday meeting
By Robert Channick
Special to the Chicago Tribune
9:25 PM CDT, August 27, 2008

Area residents turned out by the hundreds Wednesday in Barrington to voice opposition to the proposed purchase of a suburban railroad line.

More than 500 people—many carrying protest signs—marched to Barrington High School, where a public meeting on Canadian National Railway Co.’s proposed purchase of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway was held later in the day.

The marchers—many chanting, “Stop the trains”—tied up traffic.

“If we create enough of a traffic jam it will give people just a little taste of what’s ahead if CN gets approval,” said Linda Reinhard, who organized the march.

The march gathered participants as it proceeded for more than a mile along Lake Cook Road to the high school.

The public meeting was one in a series being held throughout the Chicago area to discuss the U.S. Surface Transportation Board’s draft environmental impact report on the proposed sale.

More than 1,000 people crowded into the school’s gymnasium, where a visibly upset Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.) told representatives of the federal board that the draft report underestimated the number of affected rail crossings that could be blocked.

“It gives new meaning to the word ‘railroad,’ ” he said.

Another critic, Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), said as many as 40 suburban communities would be impacted. It would be unfair, she said, for U.S. taxpayers to pay for rail improvements that would financially benefit shareholders of the Montreal-based company.

Jeff Mangano of Lake Zurich, one of about 80 people who signed up to speak, said he worried about falling property values if the purchase were approved.

“Overnight, home values of 100,000 homeowners along the EJ&E will plummet,” he said.

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