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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Iowa cities say they face ‘disastrous impact’ from CP-KCS merger’s increased traffic

Iowa cities say they face ‘disastrous impact’ from CP-KCS merger’s increased traffic

By | December 20, 2021

Davenport council asks for STB visit, wants railroad to ‘cover all costs’ to mitigate projected growth from eight to 22 trains daily

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Train with red locomotives passing through industrial area.
Train with red locomotives passing through industrial area.
Canadian Pacific local train B71 works in Davenport, Iowa, on Feb. 15, 2020. Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, have expressed concerns over increased traffic from the CP-Kansas City Southern merger to the Surface Transportation Board. (Craig Williams)

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Officials in the cities of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, have told the Surface Transportation Board that increased traffic from the proposed Canadian Pacific-Kansas City Southern merger will have “very real and detrimental impacts,” with Davenport’s mayor and aldermen asking that an STB member visit before the board acts to see how the merger “will have a disastrous impact on the community.”

An in-depth report from the Quad-Cities Times explains the cities are concerned that about the projected increase from eight to 22 trains per day, according to the railroads’ merger filing. The traffic will use “a single track that is adjacent to critical regional infrastructure and heavily utilized public event spaces,” Davenport City Administrator Corri Spiegel wrote in a filing separate from one by the mayor and council. “This substantial increase in traffic will result in more frequent traffic delays, more frequent maintenance requirements, an increase in train switching and increased likelihood of accidental derailment or [hazardous-material] contamination events.”

Among other areas of concern, Spiegel noted an investment of more than $1 million at a site where Mississippi River cruise ships will dock in 2022, and a $6 million tourism project along the riverfront. In 2021, the area hosted more than 100 events drawing more than 410,000 visitors. “The city is deeply concerned that the proposed increased train traffic that occurs within a few feet of many of these events will turn this vibrant, community gathering space into something that is unsafe, less attractive and frequently inaccessible,” Spiegel wrote. The owner of the minor-league baseball team in Davenport and officials in Bettendorf had similar access concerns.

The letter from Davenport’s mayor and council asked that the CPKC “cover all of the costs associated with necessary improvements to mitigate the impacts” of the increased traffic. A Canadian Pacific spokesman said the railroad “will work hard to be a good neighbor” and has met with officials in the two cities and will continue discussions.

A group of Chicago suburbs have banded together over their own merger concerns and urged their resident to file comments with the STB [see “Chicago suburbs express concerns …,” News Wire, Dec. 16, 2021].

23 thoughts on “Iowa cities say they face ‘disastrous impact’ from CP-KCS merger’s increased traffic

  1. Right Michael. Why do people buy or build right next to active railroad tracks? Do they think or hope that some day they will just go away? Railroading is a business an like any other business some will go bust while others will expand. Maybe they should think twice before living, working, or playing next to active tracks.

  2. What exactly do they think the tracks are for? Snowmobiles in the winter? Bicycles in the summer? Lovers kissing in the sunset? Mimes and strolling buskers vamping it up for tips?

  3. The start of any “negotiation” of merger related remedies between a railroad and a municipality intent on gaining some concessions, is to pull your hair, gnash your teeth and scream about hazmat accidents, congestion, diesel fumes – what have you.

    If CP and KCS ante up for a few new overpasses or underpasses to eliminate crossings, a lot of the objections will probably melt away. As Michael Corleone said “it’s not personal, it’s strictly business”.

  4. Why did they build an event center next to the tracks, because it was cheaper than litigating it around neighborhood NIMBY’s. “The letter from Davenport’s mayor and council asked that the CPKC “cover all of the costs associated with necessary improvements to mitigate the impacts” of the increased traffic.” If the towns created the impacts by building by the tracks than the towns can mitigate the problem themselves working with the railroad or just go pound sand.

  5. Railroads were instrumental in building America, and it’s towns and cities…all of this hoopla is a mighty fine way of saying thank you! (sarcasm intended)

  6. As somebody who grew up along the Burlington Racetrack with a vibrant downtown completely undiminished by over eighty trains a day passing through the middle of it, I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

    1. LaGrange on the Burlington is heaven on earth both for trains and for a place to live, or shop, or hang out, or grab a meal. I’d be proud, Joshua, to call LaGrange, Hinsdale, or Western Springs, etc. home. On the north side, CP Rail, Glenview, Deerfield or Lake Forest. Elmhurst on the UP West.

      More to the point than the overall 24-hour count on the Burlington are the passenger peaks, morning and afternoon, when auto traffic and urban pedestrian activity also are at their highest level.

      On the Burlington, the most magnificent sight is when the afternoon METRAs taper off and the first freights are released.

  7. The same line also does riverfront running through Muscatine and Clinton, Iowa.
    Have they complained yet?

    1. No, and Clinton likely won’t, since that’s also home to to UP’s ex-CNW Chicago-Omaha main line, which sees 2 to 3 times as many through trains. I believe UP is still planning on building a new high-level Mississippi river bridge in Clinton, which would involve grade separating the two lines and will probably result in smoother operations through town.

  8. Yep to all the comments,

    There will be cities who see a continuous seamless in line rail & container service between the economies of three Countries, direct access to major Cities from Mexico City to Houston to Chicago to Toronto/Montreal to name a few and touching container ports in three countries & two oceans as a huge economic development opportunity. Then their will be others. I guess we know where Davenport falls.

  9. I would also remind everyone that those event areas in Davenport and Bettendorf are not flood protected. The last spring flood that peaked in the Rock Island District closed this line for several days and has put the rails under water several other times which forced 10mph operations. At 2 trains a day, that is not a big deal. At 22 a day, that is something else completely, and we haven’t even added PSR train lengths to the discussion.

    I predict a future Federal/Iowa joint grant to elevate the line with 2 tracks to support bi-drectional running and get them cleared through town faster.

  10. Crews change at Nahant Yard in Davenport. Maybe some of these civic leaders should give some thought to the well paying railroad jobs that will likely result for their citizens.

  11. The local will do the local switching like it currently does so no increased switching. That means the vast majority of trains will be run through. As for the complaints train nose has never bothered the Seattle Mariners or the Seattle Seahawks. I grew up with the two main tracks of the Boston and Maine Northern route and the freight only Hill Crossing freight cutoff directly in back of my house. I could sleep through steam when I was little and later 125 car freights pulled by ABBA sets of F units.

  12. Has anyone actually been to Bettendorf, Davenport or Muscatine? Most of the comments are coming from an outsiders point of view. Until you saw what’s really at stake try visiting those areas first. Being native from Muscatine, I go to Davenport and Bettendorf frequently. I don’t see why the railroad has to pay for all of the upgrades when the developers didn’t think about this when the Milwaukee Road went bankrupt. After the train frequency went down they started building businesses and residential areas where there used to be industry, even Muscatine went that direction. Now that people live around the tracks they don’t want to hear the trains coming through. The problem with building over passes in downtown areas like Muscatine and Davenport is there’s no room for one and two you run into the public domain issue. Another problem is they all narrowed the lines down to one track, so making the daily train count go to 22 will make it even more congested. If anything they need to be working on these issues, it’s the cities along the line that created the issue in the first place and find a compromise to work with CPKCS instead of making them cover the whole cost.

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