Proposed Train Line Threatens Dairy Family's Future

Proposed Train Line Threatens Dairy Family’s Future

Too close for comfort. That’s the concern for the Wakeley family in Winnebago County in northern Illinois. The proposed Great Lakes Basin Transportation line runs within a stone’s throw of the Wakeleys’ dairy operation.

Proposed Train Line Threatens Dairy Family's Future
According to Tammy Wakeley, the rail line the Great Lakes Basin Transportation has applied to build would run between the dairy barn at left in this photograph and the house in the background. (Photo courtesy of Tammy Wakeley)

“It’s literally right next to the free-stall barn,” said Tammy Wakeley. “We put it up about ten years ago. That is where our income is.”

And if the route goes through, the Wakeleys’ financial future is not too promising.

“There’s no way we could have any kind of livestock on this farm,” she said.

It’s anticipated that the line could carry upwards of 110 trains per day at speeds as high as 70 miles per hour.

“Our lives are literally on hold right now,” Wakeley said. “You don’t put up new buildings because you don’t know if you’re going to be milking because you don’t what’s going to happen.”

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) will make the final decision on the issue, but that could take another two years.

“It’s our livelihood, and it’s our business,” Wakeley said. “It’s what we’ve built our life around, the dairy.”

The farm the Wakeleys own dates back to 1884. They would like the STB to open up the comment period for the project in Winnebago County. Other counties impacted by the proposed route include Kankakee and Boone, where Wakeley said there was a comment period offered for residents.

By: Jim Taylor
Source: Farm Week Now

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