CHICAGO, IL, April 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) announced today it has reached an agreement with the City of Joliet, Ill. -- the largest of the communities along the arc of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Company (EJ&E) with which CN has a voluntary mitigation agreement (VMA) -- to fund construction of a grade-crossing bypass that will improve vehicular traffic flows and enhance rail safety in the city's Forest Park area.
The $2.5-million bypass funded by CN will permit the closure of the Woodruff Road grade crossing, located just outside of Joliet Yard. Delays to motorists due to stopped and slow-moving trains needing to enter and exit the yard have long been a problem at this crossing, and it has consistently experienced the highest number of crossing blockages since CN's acquisition of the EJ&E on Jan. 31, 2009.
The new bypass road will link the eastern portion of Woodruff Road and Collins Street, providing area residents a road connection that does not cross the CN tracks.
The new road will also assist the efforts of the City of Joliet - located 45 miles southwest of downtown Chicago -- to promote the redevelopment of the old Joliet Prison/Collins Street Prison property, including the old prison structures as well as undeveloped land located east of Collins Street.
Jim Vena, CN senior vice-president, Southern Region, said: "CN has been working closely with the City of Joliet for the past three years on ways to lessen the impact on the community of our acquisition of the EJ&E. In fact, Joliet was the first city we reached a voluntary mitigation agreement with back in August 2008.
"We are extremely pleased that our productive partnership with Joliet has produced a mutually beneficial road bypass agreement that will improve the quality of life of residents living near the Woodruff Road grade crossing, spur property redevelopment in the area, and help improve the fluidity of CN's rail network in the Chicago area."
Joliet Mayor Arthur Schultz said: "CN's investment in the new bypass road should assist us in kick-starting the redevelopment of the old prison property, which has been a key priority for many city stakeholders. We appreciate CN's innovation and community partnership in advancing such an important urban initiative."
In addition to its bypass agreement with Joliet, CN has signed voluntary mitigation agreements with 27 of the 33 communities - or 82 per cent - located along the EJ&E in Illinois and Indiana. The VMAs cover a range of initiatives, including the creation of quiet zones, noise and safety mitigation, communications and emergency response training, and industrial development.
CN is working closely with communities on the EJ&E that do not have VMAs with the company to ensure implementation of safety and environmental conditions required by the Surface Transportation Board. CN is prepared to explore further VMAs with these municipalities if they wish to pursue talks with the railroad.
The integration of the CN and EJ&E networks is well underway. For more information on the acquisition, including a map of the areas served by CN, please visit the company's website at www.cn.ca.
CN - Canadian National Railway Company and its operating railway subsidiaries - spans Canada and mid-America, from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to the Gulf of Mexico, serving the ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., and the key metropolitan areas of Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., Green Bay, Wis., Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America. For more information on CN, visit the company's website at www.cn.ca.