Suburbs file complaint with feds to block Canadian Pacific/Kansas City Southern merger

The coalition of eight suburbs fighting the railway merger of the Canadian Pacific and the Kansas City Southern filed on Monday an official request with the federal Surface Transportation Board to block the $31 billion pact.

Bartlett, Bensenville, Elgin, Itasca, Hanover Park, Roselle, Wood Dale and Schaumburg formed the Coalition to Stop CPKC last week in a bid to convince the board that the merger would bring so many additional trains to the Milwaukee West Line that it would dramatically alter life in their communities.

The filing argues the board cannot approve the transaction as proposed because it would nearly triple the number of freight trains on the already congested line between Chicago and Elgin, and increase the length of those trains as well.

The rail line bisects many of the suburbs at grade level. In addition to worries about traffic congestion and incessant noise, community leaders fear that emergency vehicles traveling across town could be delayed, setting the stage for tragedy.

Itasca Mayor Jeff Pruyn has said that one long train conceivably could block all five grade crossings in his village at once.

“We feel (The Canadian Press) has collectively understated the true impact of communities across the line,” Roselle Mayor David Pileski said on Tuesday.

“We will engage with STB and continue to advocate for when this is modified so we can continue to have a viable commercial corridor.”

The merger would create the first single-line rail network linking the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The railroads filed the merger application in October.

Each of the eight suburbs conducted evaluations and determined what mitigations would be needed to protect their residents and businesses from the increase in freight traffic. Pileski said Roselle alone would need at least $30 million to create pathways and modify roads to get around the freight trains.

The coalition filing says the potential price tag for mitigations in all eight suburbs could reach $9.5 billion, and negate any benefit to the railroads.

That figure does not include what it might cost to address potential environmental impacts, which will be laid out in an assessment in June.

The Surface Transportation Board has said it expects to have a decision by the fall. If the merger is granted, integrating railroad services is expected to take three years to complete.

In December, a representative from Canadian Pacific responded to a Daily Herald request for comment in an email, saying that they will work hard to be a good neighbor and address potential adverse community impacts, working with the communities through the process.

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