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Posted on: April 23, 2021

BNSF Vegetation Removal Continues

This week the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) continued the removal of trees and landscaping within their right-of-way. In general, the BNSF right-of-way spans 20 feet to the north and south, from the center of the tracks. In 2020, the BNSF began vegetation removal in every municipality along the railway tracks, from Chicago to Aurora. Removals in Western Springs, La Grange, and Hinsdale were hastened after foliage interfered with the railroad switch gear.  Following a vehicle/train collision on the tracks at Wolf and Hillgrove in late 2020, the BNSF responded with an even more robust vegetation removal schedule. Removals are estimated to continue throughout the spring in multiple municipalities.

Village staff met with the BNSF on multiple occasions to voice concerns over the aesthetic impacts in the area due to tree removal. Unfortunately, the Village has no jurisdiction over the BNSF right-of-way, and while the BNSF heard the Village’s concerns, they made no changes to their removal plan. The Department of Municipal Services was already in the process of developing a tree planting plan for Village owned right-of-way adjacent to the BNSF property, as that landscaping had been showing a decline in health. Multiple trees were planted on the south side of the tracks in 2020, and plantings will continue over the next years.

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