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STB schedules public meeting to discuss CN/EJ&E deal's environmental review

On Nov. 18, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) will conduct a public meeting to review an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being prepared for the Canadian National Railway Co./Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. (EJ&E) transaction.

During the meeting, board members will discuss the EIS with Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA) staff. The meeting is open for public observation, but not public participation.

The SEA is preparing a final EIS that will assess the transaction’s potential environmental impacts. The final EIS will incorporate comments on a draft EIS that the SEA completed in July.

CN is seeking STB approval to acquire a major portion of the 198-mile EJ&E, which operates a mainline that encircles Chicago. In October 2007, the Class I reached a deal with U.S. Steel Corp. to acquire most of the EJ&E for $300 million. CN plans to name the operations the EJ&EW West Co.

The Class I is pressuring the STB to issue a final decision on the transaction by year’s end. U.S. Steel might terminate the deal if CN can’t consummate the transaction by Dec. 31.

However, the STB plans to adhere to its previously announced procedural schedule, says STB spokesman Dennis Watson. The board expects to complete the environmental review process in December or January and issue a final decision soon afterward.

In the meantime, a number of communities in the Chicago area continue to oppose the transaction because of train traffic, noise and safety concerns.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/10/2008