Raising of downtown Davenport railroad means the city's riverfront 'will never be the same'

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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) The Davenport riverfront may never be the same. That was the message from city leaders following a meeting with Canadian Pacific executives Wednesday morning.

Davenport mayor Frank Klipsch brought the groups together after weeks of back-and-forth following Canadian Pacific’s decision to raise the several miles of the tracks during the floods. The meeting focused on how the two groups could work together in moving forward with the raised tracks and development of the downtown Davenport riverfront. With the raised tracks, plans to make the riverfront a destination will have to be changed.

"This is different,” downtown alderman Marion Meginnis said. “This is a change and we are looking at a complete change in how we are looking at our river and how we are looking at our riverfront."

During Wednesday’s meeting, a large portion of the conversation centered around how the railroad will restore access at the city’s seven intersections no obstructed by the raised tracks. Currently, there are temporary crossings at Harrison, Perry and Marquette Streets, but under Iowa law, the railroad has 30 days from the time the water recedes to restore them to their original state, but the city thinks that time frame is too quick.

"It is important that we slow this down a little bit,” Meginnis said.

The city wants to make sure the replacement crossings are compliant with federal laws, in addition to the city’s plan for the riverfront, which will have to be changed based on the rising of the tracks. The city planned on riverfront development to allow the city to “flow into the river”. One area that members of the Riverfront Improvement Commission said would see a big change is the area of Dylan’s Fountain. With the tracks up higher visitors will no longer be able to walk directly to the river from the fountain.

"What is good for the railroad has to be good for the city,” Dee Bruemmer, vice-chair of the commission said following the meeting.

Original plans for the riverfront included a new sky deck under the current sky bridge, an amphitheater and outdoor venues for entertaining. With the raised train tracks, the commission is now tasked with looking to the future and incorporating higher train tracks that take the view away from the city. The city and the railroad plan to work together to achieve that.

"We are committed to understanding what their needs are and working with them as we move forward,” Andy Cummings, spokesperson for Canadian Pacific said.

The railroad is also looking at building its own flood protection on property it owns. That could include a flood wall on a portion of the track near the Arsenal Bridge. The idea is just an idea at this point.

"CP provides transportation services to businesses all over Iowa and actually North America. By raising the tracks, CP was able to continue meeting the needs of those businesses while the water was at a higher mark,” Cumming said.

The city is hoping that the railroad will also help pay for the crossings and parts of the riverfront development. City leaders said it hoped to have decisions made by the end of the year