Regulators extend public comment period for railroad merger

A Canadian Pacific train passes through the region early this year. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

In response to requests from communities that will be impacted by the proposed buyout of Kansas City Southern by Canadian Pacific, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) has agreed to extend the deal’s public comment period to Friday, Oct. 14.

The STB’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OAS) issued the notice extending the deadline on Wednesday, Sept. 7. Public comments originally were due by Wednesday, Sept. 28, regarding the merger that is likely to triple train traffic in Eastern Iowa.

Many, but not all, the river communities in the Iowa Quad Cities that will be impacted by the merger have inked deals with Canadian Pacific to help them address the impact of the merger which would create the first unified railway between Mexico and Canada. 

The City of LeClaire, for example, joined its neighbors in Davenport, Bettendorf and Muscatine in accepting settlements. The LeClaire City Council voted Tuesday, Sept. 6, to accept $750,000 in exchange for not attempting to block the merger.

At the same time, however, Camanche, Iowa, voted unanimously to oppose the merger and Scott County supervisors agreed to submit a letter of opposition to the deal. 

Private citizens, including former Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba, and groups including Stop the Train, a coalition of community leaders, also have come out against the plan.

As a condition of the settlement, all the local cities have agreed they will not oppose the merger during the public comment period of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)  issued Aug. 5 by the STB.

The settlements also are contingent upon STB approval of the merger, which could come this winter with the city’s receiving their money within 60 days of that decision.

The review of the Draft EIS includes four meetings around the country seeking public comment including an open house on Tuesday, Sept. 13. for 6-8 p.m. at the Davenport RiverCenter.

The STB also is hosting three online meetings seeking public response, which began Wednesday, Sept. 7, and Thursday, Sept. 8, and Monday, Sept. 19. Those interested are encouraged to pre-register on the board-sponsored project website.

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