Legislators Require BNSF Railroad To mitigate flooding on their properties – Cicero City, IL

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Officials are demanding that BNSF Railways stop lying and be responsible for the flooding problems caused by their cement renewal of properties. BNSF owns 7 percent of the land in the city of Cicero. Flooding from BNSF properties has impacted suburban homes in the suburbs of Chicagoland. BNSF refuses to hold account. Pictured are Cicero Trustee Victor Garcia, Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias, Cook County Commissioner Frank Aguilar, State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, State Rep. Mike Zalewski, and State Senator Steve Landek.

City President Larry Dominick and Cook County and Illinois Legislature officials have called for the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway to be “held responsible for flooding problems” caused in neighboring homes as a result of the concrete refurbishment of their lots.

State Senator Steve Landek, State Senator Antonio “Tony” Munoz, State Representative Lisa Hernandez, State Representative Michael Zalewski and Cook County Commissioner Frank Aguilar joined in at a press conference held at Cicero City Hall on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, as did President Dominick BNSF because of themselves refuse to address the problems they are creating.

Officials said the BNSF “is not above the law,” officials reported that rainwater runoff from the site caused rainwater runoff to drain many homes and lots, not just in Cicero but in the suburbs of Chicagoland adjacent to the BNSF properties the railroad were damaged.

Zalewski said he introduced HB 1357 to require all railway companies, including the BNSF Railway, that own at least 5 percent of the land in a parish, to adhere to the Watershed Management Ordinances of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) to manage stormwater runoff.

BNSF owns more than 7 percent of the land in Cicero, officials said.

State Rep. Mike Zalewski speaks on laws enforcing the responsibility of the BNSF railroad to residents of Cicero and other suburban communities whose property has been damaged by BNSF stormwater floods as a result of BNSF renovation projects
State Rep. Mike Zalewski speaks on laws enforcing the responsibility of the BNSF railroad to residents of Cicero and other suburban communities whose property has been damaged by BNSF stormwater floods as a result of BNSF renovation projects

“We tabled a law in the fall, a very simple law that says that a piece of land owned by the railroad must comply with the state, county, and district drainage laws because they own 5 percent of that land,” said Zalewski.

“We are blessed with a very modern Drainage Act in Cook County and the MWRD region, an ordinance that ensures the watershed is properly managed in light of the flooding problems we are facing. We just want the city of Cicero and the residents affected by the flood to be protected by this ordinance. “

Zalewski noted that BNSF refuses to adhere to the MWRD’s Watershed Management Ordinances, adding that its legislation has the support of both the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate.

State MP Lisa Hernandez speaks about laws enforcing the BNSF railroad's responsibility to residents of Cicero and other suburban communities whose property has been damaged by BNSF rainwater floods caused by BNSF renovation projects
State Representative Lisa Hernandez is calling for the BNSF Railway to be accountable to residents of Cicero and other suburban communities whose property has been damaged by BNSF stormwater floods as a result of BNSF renovation projects

“There will be a push to hold the BNSF accountable for its role in rainwater flooding,” said Zalewski.

Hernandez, who has lived in Cicero for nearly 40 years, said her home was flooded and that she has noticed increased flooding from the BNSF properties, including flooding under the railway viaduct on Austin Blvd north of Ogden Avenue.

“We call on the BNSF to do everything possible to alleviate the flooding problem,” said Herna

said ndez.

Hernandez noted that several areas of Cicero have experienced flooding as rainwater drained from the rebuilt BNSF lots, including along 58th Court between 27th and 28th Streets and the viaduct on Austin Blvd north of Ogden Avenue.

In a statement read at the press conference, Munoz promised that the BNSF will be responsible for the flooding it is causing in the city of Cicero and many other suburbs near their properties.

Cook County Commissioner Frank Aguilar is calling for the BNSF railroad to be accountable to residents of Cicero and other suburban communities whose property has been damaged by BNSF stormwater floods caused by BNSF renewal projects
Cook County Commissioner Frank Aguilar is calling for the BNSF railroad to be accountable to residents of Cicero and other suburban communities whose property has been damaged by BNSF stormwater floods caused by BNSF renewal projects

“Over the past two decades, the BNSF has irresponsibly replaced soft soil that absorbs rainwater with concrete and asphalt, causing rainwater to wash onto the properties of nearby homes and private properties, causing flooding without providing meaningful and effective protective measures “Said Munoz.

“We are working hard to offer programs that will help homeowners cope with the flooding problem that affects all communities in the Chicagoland area. It doesn’t help that a company like BNSF, which owns so much land and resources in many of these communities, is impervious and indifferent and ignores the flooding problems it is causing its neighboring communities and homeowners. “

Aguilar said Cook County stands ready to help any residents struggling with flooding issues, noting that acting today will help prepare the area for possible spring floods.

Officials are demanding that BNSF Railways stop lying and be responsible for the flooding problems caused by their cement renewal of properties.  BNSF owns 7 percent of the land in the city of Cicero.  Flooding from BNSF properties has impacted suburban homes in the suburbs of Chicagoland.  BNSF refuses to hold account.  Pictured are Cicero Trustee Victor Garcia, Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias, Cook County Commissioner Frank Aguilar, State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, State Rep. Mike Zalewski, and State Senator Steve Landek.
Officials are demanding that BNSF Railways stop lying and be responsible for the flooding problems caused by their cement renewal of properties. BNSF owns 7 percent of the land in the city of Cicero. Flooding from BNSF properties has impacted suburban homes in the suburbs of Chicagoland. BNSF refuses to hold account. Pictured are Cicero Trustee Victor Garcia, Clerk Maria Punzo-Arias, Cook County Commissioner Frank Aguilar, State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, State Rep. Mike Zalewski, and State Senator Steve Landek.

“Flooding is not just an issue in Cicero, it is an issue across Cook County and the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railways should be held accountable to all levels of government, and especially to the people here,” said Aguilar.

“It is a problem that me and my colleagues on the county board are working on funding the infrastructure to address the problem, but the lack of collaboration makes it more difficult. To repeat the words of my colleagues here, the railways should be held accountable. “

President Dominick said the city appreciates the support of lawmakers and district officials, saying, “Every government and public agency, including BNSF, must be held responsible for the impact they have on rainwater runoff that damages homes.” I appreciate all legislators and officials who stand up for the residents’ right to protect their homes. “

Click here to watch the video of the press conference or use the widget below to watch it.


You can complain to BNSF officials as follows:

1 – Call BNSF and file an anonymous complaint: 1-800-832-5452 option 4

2 – Email to the BNSF officers

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