Northwest city mayors, first responders, business owners oppose $31B Canadian Pacific, Kansas City Southern railroad merger


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Bartlett, Ill. (WLS) — Residents and police and fire chiefs called a meeting Monday night in the northwest suburbs to protest the proposed $31 billion merger of the Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railroads.

The North West Suburbs Mayors Coalition has previously expressed opposition to the proposal. Monday night’s packed public meeting has them worried about traffic, but more importantly, what does it mean when they need to call for help?

“This is a police response nightmare,” said one speaker. “When time is of the essence, we cannot gamble.”

Marian Tardy, who lives south of the railroad tracks, shares her concerns as she walks along the main artery in Itasca.

“If those railroad tracks cut any time, it’s going to be a loss of life for a lot of people,” she said.

“We don’t want these trains going through our towns, we can’t afford it,” said Sandra Falco, who lives south of the railroad tracks in Wood Dale.

Public officials say that in addition to quality-of-life concerns associated with increased rail traffic, there are also safety concerns. Wooddale Fire Chief James Burke said every second counts when a fire truck or ambulance is on its way to an emergency and needs to cross the roads.

“We need to be able to cross paths for medical and fire,” he said.

The meeting began with a brief presentation of the draft Environmental Impact Statement, which identified rail-related noise as the largest expected impact. But public opinion and discussion focused on capacity, congestion and emergency response times.

“Environmental stakeholders in our area should be consulted to assess the full safety impact of the merger and that has not happened,” said U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthy, who represents the area.

The Surface Transportation Board is expected to rule on the merger this winter, with board representatives saying they plan to consider all public comments before issuing its final EIS report.

Like many cities, trains are part of the everyday fabric of downtown Bartlett. Jessie’s Mexican Restaurant is across the street from the Metra station. And the idea of ​​adding eight to 14 more freight trains to two-mile-long trains doesn’t sit well with the owner.

“We can’t take orders when the train goes by. It’s too noisy,” said owner Luz Alvarez.

“No one likes the merger because of the focus on freight as opposed to people,” said Hanover Park Mayor Rod Craig.

Bartlett Mayor Kevin Wallace said, “The length of these trains will close every intersection in the city for a period of time. So it will be impossible to get to the north and south.”

Experts say it is unlikely that the board will stop the merger, but the communities hope to reduce it more realistically; Money to pay for solutions like underpasses under the roads.

“There may be some accommodation for these cities that are concerned about increasing tonnage as part of the merger,” said Joe Schwitterman, a transportation expert at DePaul.

Metra, which owns the tracks in question, also opposes the merger, saying it would cause more delays for freight trains.

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