Transportation

Openlands believes that it is vital to design transportation solutions with nature.  Our roads, rail, transit, and trails should support livable, walkable communities that preserve and enhance open space. Combining our expertise in ecology, restoration, law, and planning with the insight of dozens of other conservation organizations, Openlands has successfully championed smart infrastructure policy for over 30 years.


Openlands has a history of collaborating with many different interests – from government agencies to agricultural and intermodal businesses – to transform damaging transportation projects into sound solutions that preserve the integrity of our communities, farmland and open spaces.

  • In 2005, Openlands championed the establishment of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to better integrate large scale transportation projects into a consensus-borne regional vision. We continue to assist CMAP with the implementation of the GOTO 2040 plan and the ONTO 2050 plan, both of which guide infrastructure development, address climate change through mitigation and adaptation, and preserve our region’s connected areas of green.
  • Since 2012, Openlands organized a coalition of 30 partners to oppose the proposed Illiana Tollway, a short-sighted $1.5 billion project that would pave over thousands of acres of prime farmland and ruin habitat, such as the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, for state and federally protected wildlife.
  • In 2016, we began to engage other conservation and agricultural organizations to voice concerns over the potential damage caused by the proposed Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc. railway that would carry hazardous substances, such as Bakken crude, around the edge of the Chicago metropolitan area and threaten clean water resources.

Today, Openlands and its partners continue to lead dialogue with industry, local farmers, and government officials as to how to protect nationally-renowned natural resources while effectively managing our commercial needs.