Will federal regulators approve controversial railroad merger? Answer expected Wednesday

Federal regulators intend to announce a decision Wednesday on the controversial merger of the Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railroads that's been fought by multiple suburbs.

CP's $31 billion acquisition would create an intercontinental freight railroad stretching from Mexico to Canada.

CP predicts the move will create jobs and move goods faster, but The Coalition to Stop CPKC - which includes DuPage County, Bartlett, Bensenville, Elgin, Itasca, Hanover Park, Roselle, Wood Dale and Schaumburg - warns of gridlock at crossings and potential derailments.

A Feb. 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palatine, Ohio, raised the merger stakes for opponents. A total of 38 railcars left the tracks including some with vinyl chloride that was released into the environment, devastating the small town.

"The risks associated with the merger, as proposed, are apparent and have been communicated clearly to the STB," Bensenville Village Manager Evan Summers said. "We provided hours of testimony from our mayors, first responders and subject matter experts and submitted volumes of written testimony from our residents and state elected officials.

"We are hopeful that STB will choose to put the health, safety and quality of life of hundreds of thousands above the profits of a Canadian freight rail company."

Canadian Pacific CEO Keith Creel has previously called the deal a "once-in-a-lifetime partnership to create the first U.S.-Mexico-Canada rail network. This is a transformative opportunity for CP, for KCS, and for the North American economy."

A spokesman said recently that "CP remains committed to working with communities as we advance through this process and looks forward to receiving the STB's decision."

Metra and Chicago area federal lawmakers also number among opponents.

STB Chairman Marty Oberman, a former Chicago alderman and Metra leader, is expected to explain the decision to reporters Wednesday morning.

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