UPDATE: Hundreds in Belvidere attend public meeting about Great - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

UPDATE: Hundreds in Belvidere attend public meeting about Great Lakes Basin Railroad project

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BELVIDERE (WREX) -

One after one people voiced their opposition to the proposed 278 mile railroad.

The line would go right through the Stateline crossing parts of Winnebago, Ogle and Boone counties and running directly through Paul Donley's farm. He says the loss in farmland will have a major impact on his bottom line.

"It's going to take extra time to move from field to field," Donley says. "I have got projects for land improvement that we are not going to do."

Great Lakes Basin Transportation wants to build the railroad to help speed up existing train routes and create the potential for more railroad traffic.

"We are going to make agriculture, manufacturing and distribution and a whole slew of industries much more competitive in the world market place," Great Lakes Chairman Frank Patton.

But for the line to be built it needs a permit from the state transportation board.

"We have had great turnouts. We have had most of the meetings 400 to 500 people each at the meetings," says Surface Transportation Board Project Lead Dave Navecky.

Over the past week the board has started gathering public input to help form an environmental impact statement for the project.  It will also determine whether alternative routes should be considered.

So far officials say concerns have ranged from the impact on area roads to the impact on farmers land.

Donley says even if the company offers him money to build on his property it won't make things better.

"I live to farm and I want to farm until I can't anymore," Donley says. I'm not going to be any happier with a million dollars than I'm with $10 today. So money is not the issue."

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Hundreds of people are attending a community forum in Belvidere to discuss the proposal for the Great Lakes Basin Railroad project. 

Great Lakes Basin Transportation has filed an application to build a 278-mile rail line. 

It would start in Indiana, run through Illinois — through several counties in the Stateline — and end near Milton, Wisc. 

The rail company has to get state approval because of the potential for environmental impacts. 

If you can not get to this morning's meeting in Belvidere, you can still attend one tonight in Rockford. 

A public forum starts at 5:30 at Ellis Academy, 222 S. Central Ave. It runs until 8 p.m. 

13 News reporter Reuben Jones will be at the meetings to bring you full updates at 13 News at 5, 6 and 10. 

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