Update on the La Crosse BNSF Rail Expansion Controversy (WI)

In late October, despite vigorous opposition from the citizens group Citizens Acting for Rail Safety, the City of La Cross Wisconsin has thrown their cards on the table, and decided to cooperate with BNSF to double-track their line through the city

The purpose of the expansion is to transport more Bakken crude oil from North Dakota.  It will involve filling in over 7 acres of La Crosse River Marsh.

Source: WPR.org

Last night, the city had a public meeting regarding the expansion, as reported below.


Citizens Acting for Rail Safety website and Facebook page
La Crosse Train Agreement
City, BNSF come to terms on rail line
Permit Application for Dredging and Fill – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 


Public weighs in on rail expansion

Posted: Dec 03, 2014 10:42 PM CSTUpdated: Dec 03, 2014 10:42 PM CSTGinna RoeWXOW.com

People in La Crosse had the chance Wednesday to speak out about plans for a railroad expansion in the city.

Last month the city agreed to drop its opposition to the project. The next step is for it to win approval from the Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Railroad Commissioner.

On Wednesday the commissioner hosted a public forum to get community feedback.“It’s easy for you to come in here and give answers and then you go back to your home which is far far away from here and we all have to live and work here,” State Senator Jennifer Shilling said.

Many in the audience were in agreement. They had questions and they wanted answers, some of which they did not get.
Many wanted to know how the addition of a double track would impact the wait time at rail crossings.
The BNSF representative, David Johnson didn’t have the answer. He also declined an on camera interview. News 19 reached out to the rail company and they did issue this statement:
“The project will help BNSF improve the fluidity of traffic on our network and to better serve all of our customers.”
The city also had it’s concerns. It asked BNSF for some specific safety precautions when moving forward including the installation of concrete panels and concrete sidewalks for pedestrian traffic. The city said concrete panels and sidewalks at the Cass, Farnam and Main Street crossings would meet all existing standards for pedestrian safety and BNSF agreed to the request.
In the next few weeks, the Office of Commissioner Railroads will issue a written proposal on whether the railroad’s plan for the three crossings should be approved or not.
Then public will have 15 days to give feedback to the commissioner who makes the final decision.
If you are interested in giving feedback, you may do so through the railroad commission website, www.ocr.wi.gov
The OCR asks that you send emails rather than filling out an online complaint form.