The merger of two major rail lines, Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern, has been officially approved by federal agencies, as reported last week in the Herald-Leader.
Canadian Pacific railways, which owns and operates the rail line running through Bellevue and eastern Jackson County, filed an application with the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) last October to officially merge with Kansas City Southern railroad.
The $31 billion merger will now create a single line connecting Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, but here in the Bellevue area – as with other communities – it will boost the amount of rail traffic running through town by several trains per day.
Another new development for the Bellevue area as a result of the merger is how it will affect the residents up north near Smith’s Ferry Road on 334th Street.
A public notice (which appears on page 23 of this week’s Herald-Leader) sent per Iowa Code by Canadian Pacific, notifies the public of a storm water discharge as a result of construction in that location.
“Canadian Pacific in 2023 and 2024 plans to construct a ‘siding track,’ a second track closely parallel to the existing track, north of Bellevue,” said Andy Cummings, a spokesman for Canadian Pacific when contacted by the Herald-Leader last week.
“The siding, which was approved by the Surface Transportation Board as part of the CP-KCS merger in order to accommodate anticipated merger-related traffic changes, will create capacity for additional trains by giving them another location to pass one another. CP has discussed this project directly with Jackson County and is working to minimize impacts on local residents.”
According to Bellevue City Administrator Abbey Skrivseth, who has also been in contact with CP officials, the southern limits of the siding would start just north of the 395th Avenue crossing and extend approximately two miles to the north.
In Bellevue itself, where the rail line runs the entire length of the town, she noted that CP has indicated to city leaders that local residents will see an increase of up to six trains a day. The increase would not be immediate, but would be seen gradually as CP increases their contracts for business.
While it remains to be seen exactly how much of an impact the new merger will have in the local community, it is a fact that the railroad has been a part of Bellevue for about 150 years.
“Decades upon decades ago, the city of Bellevue was petitioning to get the railroad into our town so we could haul goods, and it was also a very important way for the residents of Bellevue to commute for transportation back in those days,” said Skrivseth. “But if you look at the history of Bellevue, there has always been a battle with the City and the railroad in one form or another. Now railroads have become so big and powerful that we are just a micro-sized piece to their large corporation. One benefit that Bellevue has and what makes us unique is that the railroad does not own the land in town. Instead, they have an easement for the right-of-way.”
Those who have concerns with the railroad’s plan concerning on the storm water discharge can see how to contact state officials by reading the legal notice on page 22. Other ways to communicate to CP is to call the number that is on the railroad sign next to the nearest crossing where you live. The number will direct callers to voice complaints or concerns.
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