‘No deal’ Camanche city officials reject settlement with Canadian Pacific

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 12:03 AM CDT
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CAMANCHE, Iowa (KWQC) - The City of Camanche will not reach an agreement with Canadian Pacific pending a merger that could ultimately result in train traffic tripling in the area.

Bettendorf, Davenport, and Muscatine have all reached settlements with the company totaling $16 million. The deals are meant to help cities mitigate the effects of increased trains.

Even though its union with Kansas City Southern is awaiting approval from the Surface Transportation Board, Canadian Pacific is already making improvements to some crossings in Camanche.

At the bargaining table, the railway offered the city a settlement totaling $200,000. If accepted, the city would agree to permanently close two of its seven railroad crossings. Another option included closing three crossings for $300,000.

However, city officials claimed the railway is not offering enough money for its needs to handle a potential merger.

“I think it’s very offensive,” Mayor Austin Pruett said. “The railroad doesn’t value the safety of our citizens and our community.”

Camanche City Administrator Andrew Kida estimated implementing quiet zones in the city would cost $2.5 million. He said that wouldn’t include the cost of adding crossing arms to those that don’t have them or installing cameras for emergency services to know which crossings are blocked by trains.

“When you put in the grand total of what’s necessary to create quiet zones in the community ... that’s just covering the noise issue,” Kida said. “That’s not covering the public safety issue.”

Upon hearing about the multi-million dollar deals downriver, Kida grew frustrated with the railway.

“I don’t know what maybe we’re too small for them to worry about,” Kida said. “For the larger communities, they certainly are doling out a lot of money for those issues.”

On top of cutting off access to the city’s riverfront, Pruett also worried about what a merger could mean for the quality of life in Camanche.

“The marina is down there, we have our public library, which is a great resource to our community,” Pruett said. “We have our very small fire station with very few firemen on that side of the railroad tracks.”

In a statement to TV6 News, Canadian Pacific confirmed it was working with the city but provided no other details.

“We continue to engage with a number of communities about the proposed combination, including Camanche,” Spokesman Andy Cummings wrote. “Those discussions are ongoing.”

Pruett said he hopes citizens will voice their concerns about the merger at a public hearing next week.

“Now they have a chance to speak, get their voices heard by the railroad,” Pruett said. “Hopefully we can get a good outcome by them reaching out.”

The hearing is set for 6 p.m. on Aug. 23 at Camanche City Hall.

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