‘Stop the Train’ coalition calls on community to speak out against Canadian Pacific rail merger

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 10:51 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - A coalition of community leaders from up and down the Mississippi River voiced its opposition to the potential merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern.

The organizer of a Tuesday morning press conference and the “Stop the Train” Facebook Page, Michelle Russell, said she doesn’t believe the city of Davenport should’ve accepted its settlement with the railway.

“My confidence that they’re going to do the right thing by the residents is zero,” Russell said.

The group asked other local governments, community organizations and everyday individuals to speak up to the Surface Transportation Board and ask it to reject the merger.

For instance, John Gardner, former president of the Quad Cities Development Group wanted organizations like the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce and the Village of East Davenport to speak up about the effects of train traffic tripling.

“Why are [these groups] are they or why are they not being important players in trying to rescue or save the riverfront from what would be a real significant barrier,” Gardner said.

Meanwhile, representatives from Princeton, Camanche and Clinton County also called on local governments to band together.

Ann Geiger, a member of the Planning and Zoning commission in Princeton, said she’s concerned about what increased noise could do to property values and the river.

“I am a firm believer that the Mississippi River is something we need to protect,” Geiger said “Any damage that happens to the river affects not only here but down river too.”

Likewise, Molly Newell, the founder of EnviorNET, an environmental engineering firm in the QC, was also concerned about the potential water, air and noise pollution

“I don’t see where anybody’s pointed out anything good about this merger,” Newell said. “Not one thing good about this merger for the people that live and work here to raise their families here and the people that pay taxes.”

Russell called on people concerned about the merger, to sign their petition.

“I don’t want [people opposed] to be three months, three years from now, with the trains just rolling by,” Russell said. “They don’t get to enjoy the river, and they’re like, ‘how did this happen? I don’t even know about this.’”

In response to the group’s claims about environmental impact, a CP spokesperson provided the following statement to TV6 News.

“CP continues to engage with a number of communities and counties in eastern Iowa and, as you know, has reached agreements with Davenport, Bettendorf and Muscatine, and has made generous proposals to a number of others.

To the requests for comment on the impacts, I’d point you to the conclusion of the recently released draft environmental impact statement, which says:

‘based on consultation with federal, state, and local agencies; consultation with tribes; input provided by organizations and the public; and its own independent environmental analysis, OEA has concluded that, 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.’”

Andy Cummings - Canadian Pacific Spokesperson

The STB will host three virtual and four in-person public forums regarding the merger starting on Sept. 7. It will also take written comments on its website until Sept. 26.

One of those four in-person meetings will be in Davenport. It is scheduled for Sept. 13 at the River Center from 6 to 8 p.m.