CN railway has agreed to provide more than $3.1 million in preserve facilities and land enhancements to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County in exchange for the railway’s use of a 5-acre parcel of District land to better enable CN to make track improvements and connections.
“This is an unprecedented agreement that is a great benefit to all residents of DuPage County,” said D. “Dewey” Pierotti Jr., president of the Forest Preserve District. “Our negotiations with CN generated a proposal that will not only help enhance our facilities, but will also modernize a stretch of tracks to help ensure the safety of all citizens.”
In an area called the Munger Connection by the railroad, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County agreement provides CN, which acquired the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. in 2009, with 5-acres of land within the north central part of Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve in Wayne for the staging of material and equipment as the railroad works to improve tracks on its own property. Additional area is provided for compensatory storage and wetland creation.
“CN needed access and room to efficiently perform the work,” said Pierotti.
Upon completion, CN will not only restore the site, but will perform wetland mitigation and habitat improvements. Pratt’s Wayne Woods is DuPage County’s largest forest preserve and contains key habitat for wildlife that rely on open areas.
Additionally, CN will fund the design and construction of two new recreational facilities now at Pratt’s Wayne Woods. The off-leash dog area will be relocated to nearby Hawk Hollow Forest Preserve in Hanover Park, and the model aircraft facility will be relocated off Stearns Road within Pratt’s Wayne Woods.
Those facilities at Pratt’s Wayne Woods are located adjacent to high quality habitat, but the Forest Preserve District’s long range plan called to move them to other areas to allow their development footprints to be restored to its natural habitat. Funding, however, was an issue.
“We always wanted to relocate the off-leash dog area and model aircraft facility to better serve residents,” said Pierotti. “But this agreement provides us with the needed funding to move forward.”
The Forest Preserve District provided a variety of opportunities for the public to comment on the plans and courtesy reviews were afforded to the municipalities that surrounded the impacted areas.
“The public was invited to multiple outreach meetings to review the plans,” said Pierotti. “Many design elements were revised to meet the needs of the attending public.”
Work is likely to start this year and is expected to end by fall, 2014.
“CN is investing millions of dollars not only in the modernization and rehabilitation of its tracks, but also in the restoration of the area’s natural environment,” said Pierotti. “The residents of DuPage County are truly benefiting from this agreement.”
Established in 1915, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County manages over 25,000 acres of prairies, woodlands and wetlands. Each year, over 4.3 million visitors enjoy the District’s 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers, and scores of scheduled programs and events. To learn more, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org.