Dubuque warns train traffic may double if railroad merger is appoved

The City of Dubuque will install culverts beneath this Canadian Pacific railroad yard. (Charlie...
The City of Dubuque will install culverts beneath this Canadian Pacific railroad yard. (Charlie Grant, KCRG-TV9)(KCRG)
Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 3:57 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The City of Dubuque plans to send a letter protesting the merger of two railroads that staff warns could more than double the train traffic that comes through the city.

The Canadian Pacific Railway, which runs through Iowa with a route along the west bank of Mississippi River into Dubuque, and Kansas City Southern filed an application with the federal government to approve a merger between the two. The companies say the $31 billion merger would create efficiencies and improvements across their rail network by allowing trains to run longer across the network without needing to shift loads or routes between lines in rail yards.

However, in a staff memo in front of the Dubuque City Council next week, City Manager Mike Van Milligen warns the merger would mean a big influx of train traffic in the Dubuque area from 6-9 trains per day o 12-18 trains per day.

“If the railroad merger is approved, the CP’s rail network in Iowa that follows the west side of the Mississippi River will become a major connection between CP’s large network in Canada and KCS’s network in the Gulf Coast and Mexico,” the memo reads.

Van Milligen is asking the Dubuque council to approve sending a letter to the federal government expressing concerns with the impact of that increased train traffic. Specifically, the letter notes impacts on maintaining flood control structures along the rail routes, damage to buildings like the Mississippi River Museum from vibrations caused by passing trains, more noise in the areas around the tracks and the increased risks of spills from hazardous or toxic rail loads.

The federal Surface Transportation Board isn’t scheduled to make a decision on the merger until next fall.

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