Feds extend time to opine on hot-button railway merger
There's more time to vent on a controversial merger proposal between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railways that's generated pushback from a number of suburbs.
The U.S. Surface Transportation Board on Tuesday extended the deadline to comment from Sept. 26 to Oct. 14 after requests from several communities.
If CP acquires the KCS, it would create a massive system stretching 20,350 miles between Canada and Mexico.
CP officials estimate the merger would increase trains in the Chicago region along its tracks by about eight a day. That's caused consternation for eight communities -- Bartlett, Bensenville, Elgin, Itasca, Hanover Park, Roselle, Wood Dale and Schaumburg -- who predict the spike in freights will tie up traffic, slow ambulances and pose hazards.
Metra is also opposed.
CP officials counter that the railroad has a stellar safety record and the merger makes economic sense.
On Aug. 5, the STB issued a draft environmental impact statement that noted "apart from train noise, which could result in adverse impacts at some locations, the potential adverse impacts of the proposed acquisition would be negligible, minor, and/or temporary."
But several federal lawmakers disagree.
"The safety and livelihood of our Illinois communities must be a top priority as the STB considers this merger," states a recent letter to the board from Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin and U.S. Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi and Marie Newman.
"Local residents, emergency response teams, and elected officials have voiced serious concerns about the impacts of increasing the number of freight trains running through their communities."
Canadian Pacific CEO Kevin Creel said in a statement to the STB that the new railroad, CPKC, "will unambiguously strengthen competition and yield a U.S. rail network more capable of meeting America's transportation needs. This should be an easy case under the board's public interest standard.
"From the outset, I have personally committed that CPKC will be a good neighbor."
The STB is holding public meetings on their draft review, with an event set for 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca. Several online forums are planned, including 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and noon to 2 p.m. Thursday.
For more information, go to cp-kcsmergereis.com.