Quad City residents plead with federal agency to stop Canadian Pacific merger

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 2:44 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2022 at 6:30 AM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The federal agency making the final decision on a multi-billion dollar merger, held a public meeting in Davenport on Tuesday.

The Surface Transportation Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis presented findings from its Draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding the pending union of Candian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railways. Representatives heard public comments for consideration on its final statement.

It was the second of four in-person meetings hosted by the agency. The first was held Monday in Itasca, Illinois. Meanwhile, the OEA held two virtual meetings on Sept. 7 and 8. For many, this was the first time they heard directly from the organization.

Before the public comment portion, attendees were able to ask questions and look at interactive maps regarding the merger and the impacted communities.

According to the OEA’s Acting Deputy Director, Dr. Joshua Wayland, a merger would have minimal impacts on historical, biological and water resources, but it would bring increased noise from trains.

“We found that trains would produce vibration and that vibration could be felt by people,” Wayland said. “It could be annoying, but we do not expect that vibration from passing trains would be strong enough to cause damage to buildings or other structures.”

The vast majority of people speaking shared concerns about their quality of life deteriorating due to train traffic potentially tripling in the Quad Cities.

Walcott resident, Veronica Bales asked how the rail lines leading into Davenport, not owned by CP, would be impacted. She’s worried about what increased noise will mean for the town of about 1,500 people.

“It’s not right to wreck people’s lives just so they can make more money,” Bales said.

Many, like Davenport resident Carol Enise, were skeptical that the agency took a full look into the human impact of the merger.

“It doesn’t really say what’s going to happen to individuals,” Enise said. “It’s so scary that we’re up against CP and KCS.”

After hearing the office’s findings, Executive Director of the Nahant Marsh, Brian Ritter, was still worried for the plant and wildlife in the surrounding areas.

“I strongly urge you to consider reviewing and visiting these incredibly sensitive treasures that we have in the Quad City Area before you make your final decision,” Ritter said.

Meanwhile, United Steelworkers Local 105 Guide, Lee Shaffer, shared concerns about the impacts it would have on his members working at Arconic in Bettendorf.

“The increased train traffic and length of the trains is a concern for all of our shipments going out from the plant,” Shaffer said. “If the company doesn’t make any money, the employees don’t make any money.”

In a statement to TV6 News, Canadian Pacific spokesperson, Andy Cummings, highlighted agreements made with QCA governments totaling at least $17 million and confirmed the company already submitted its comments to the STB.

“This historic combination joining two railroads stretching across North America will provide economic, environmental and public benefits,” Cummings wrote. “Including providing more efficient transportation options for our economy, taking more trucks off our congested public highways, lowering emissions and spurring economic growth.”

The OEA will hold two more in-person input meetings in Missouri and Texas this week. A final virtual meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Written public comments will be accepted on the merger website until Oct. 14.

Once the public comment period ends, the office will review questions and comments. It will release its Final EIS sometime this Winter. Afterward, the STB will make its decision.