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UP Railroad Tree-Clearing On Hold

ROW Map - FullFebruary 5, 2021 -- On Friday, February 5, Union Pacific (UP) notified the City that the planned tree removal project along the UP-owned right-of-way parallel to Rt. 41 scheduled to begin on February 8, 2021 has been put on hold. The City will remain in communication with UP about removal of diseased and dead trees along UP's property that should be addressed.
The City will continue to provide updates when additional information is received pertaining to tree-clearing work along the UP right-of-way.

January 28, 2021 -- Union Pacific (UP) Railroad will begin work to address operational hazards caused by trees located along the UP-owned right-of-way on either side of the train tracks running parallel to Rt. 41. The project will address ongoing concerns regarding overhanging trees on private properties, including those raised by some of the more than 200 property owners adjacent to the UP line. The UP-owned right-of-way, primarily in the rear yards of property owners, extends 50-ft on both sides of the tracks as measured from the center of the railroad tracks. Click here to view a map illustrating the UP-owned right-of-way.
To eliminate these safety concerns, UP will remove all trees within their 50-ft right-of-way but will leave underbrush intact at this time. UP also indicated that private property, such as fences, swing sets, or built-in fire pits, located within the UP right-of-way are also subject to removal. However, UP will notify property owners located adjacent to the right-of-way in advance of removal.
UP will begin work along the tracks starting at Lake Cook Road and continue north through Lake Forest, with staging tentatively scheduled to begin on Monday, February 8, 2021 and tree removal work beginning Tuesday, February 9, 2021. Please note that this is a project initiated and managed by Union Pacific and not the City of Highland Park. Inquiries regarding the scope, timeline, and general inquiries of this project should be directed to the UP point of contact, Erik Varela, Senior Director of Public Affairs, at 312.802.8198 or

Project FAQ
When is the work slated to begin?
UP contractors from O’Connor Forestry will be on-site on Monday, February 8, 2021 for staging and site review. Project work will begin on Tuesday, February 9, and will progress along the train tracks adjacent to Rt. 41 starting from Lake Cook Road north through Highland Park and Lake Forest.
How long will the work in Highland Park take?
UP anticipates work along this particular line, spanning 4.5 miles of track in Highland Park, to be completed within a week. The UP is scheduled to cover 2-3 miles of tree clearing work each day, weather permitting. 
Are properties on both sides of the track covered? Why will all the trees be removed?
Due to UP’s safety concerns, all trees located within the right-of-way along the UP track will be removed. Fallen objects such as trees or tree limbs pose an operational hazard to the trains that travel along these tracks on a daily basis.
May property owners plant their own trees or other landscaping on the UP right-of-way?
No. Property owners may not plant trees, bushes, or other landscaping within the UP-owned right-of-way or install private property such as fences, swing sets, or built-in fire pits. If a property owner wants to use the UP right-of-way, they need to get approval from UP to use their property.
What happens if I have items placed on the UP right-of-way, such as fencing?
Fencing along the property line will not be impacted; however, fencing which encroaches the UP right-of-way is subject to removal. Please remove any private structures or other personal property from the UP right-of-way. UP contractors who observe private structures within the right-of-way will follow up with the property owner.

Will anything be done to address stagnant water? Concerns regarding increased mosquito activity have been expressed.

The City will share this project information with Southland Mosquito Abatement District and their contractor at Clarke Mosquito Abatement.  They can review the subject area in the spring to address stagnant water and the concern for increased mosquito activity.

Will debris be removed along the line?
The tree contractor will only remove the trees and the associated debris.  Trash and other comparable debris can be removed in the spring.

What are the working hours?
Tentatively, working hours are scheduled from 8 AM – 5 PM. Should the City be apprised of any change, this page will be updated. 

Who can respond to additional questions about this project?
Please reach out to Erik Varela, Senior Director of Public Affairs, at, or 312.802.8198.  

Detailed Maps

North: South:
ROW Map - North ROW Map - South