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Rochelle railroad expansion opens

Published: Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Dan Royer)
City and state officials board a Burlington Junction Railway locomotive at the city of Rochelle Railroad Banner Busting Celebration Oct. 19. They celebrated the opening of a nearly 4-mile expansion to the railroad. On board are (from left) Noah Carmichael of Fehr-Graham; Dennis Berg, councilman; Ken Wise, former Greater Rochelle Economic Development Corp. executive director; U.S. Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon; Congressman Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon; Bob Benson of Illinois Department of Transportation Bureau of Railroads; Jonathan Wingate of BJRY; Kathy Hollonbeck, councilwoman; Samuel Tuck III of IDOT Bureau of Railroads; Sen. Tim Bivins; David Plyman, city manager; Rick Ketchum, Lee County board chairman; and Mark Delhotal, airport manager/rail director. Photo submitted by Katie Wolf.

ROCHELLE – Officials celebrated a completed expansion to the city of Rochelle Railroad on Oct. 18.

The expansion includes nearly 4 miles of new track built over a 2-year period – an $8.25 million project. Public and private grants covered 95 percent of the cost.

City and state officials gathered next to the Illinois River Bio-Fuels plant, and boarded the Burlington Junction Railway locomotive, which was driven through a banner to commemorate the opening.

Each year, more than 4,000 railcars are switched on the railroad, which connects to two Class I railroads. The expansion is expected to more than double that number.

Supporters include Illinois Department of Transportation, Bureau of Railroads, Economic Development Administration, the city of Rochelle, Greater Rochelle Economic Development Corp., Illinois River Energy, Coated Sand Solutions, Nippon Sharyo, and Prologis.

GREDCO board of directors and Ken Wise, former executive director, decided to build the railroad in 1986 to attract businesses and industries.

To date, 14 industries are served by the short line rail system, and more than 2,000 jobs have been created. It generates more than $300,000 for the city each year.

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