BETTENDORF, Iowa — During its Tuesday, July 5 meeting, the Bettendorf City Council voted to approve the merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railway companies.
The merger will now move onto the Surface Transportation Board for review of its impact on the city and its residents, business competition, economic issues and the environment.
The merger could have a significant impact on the city, according to the approved resolution, as the Canadian Pacific railway follows the Mississippi River for the entire southern portion of the city. As a result of the merger, freight rail traffic through Bettendorf is expected to triple by 2027.
Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher previously told News 8 that the merger could potentially limit access to certain areas in town for business owners, employees, homeowners and first responders.
Under current railway operations, trains travel through Bettendorf for about 49 minutes each day, Gallagher said. With this merger, that time could increase to almost two-and-a-half hours.
As part of the agreement with Canadian Pacific, Bettendorf will receive $3 million to help mitigate the effects on the city as a result of the increased rail traffic. The investment is enough to cover the cost of creating quiet zones from 12th to 35th streets and will leave enough money for the city to take other mitigations steps as needed.
The city will only receive that money once the merger passes every regulatory approval process. Bettendorf City Administrator Decker Ploehn said he expects that to happen in January 2023.
With that money, the city plans to upgrade its railroad crossings, including adding lights and cross arms, City Engineer Brent Morlok said. Those upgrades would allow for a quiet zone to be established.
"Then the train engineers can have confidence they can cross there and not have to worry about somebody getting across and thus not have to blow the whistle," Morlok said.
The upgrades would cost about $1.5 million, about half of the allocated money to the city, Morlok said.
The city would then save the remaining half of the money for rail crossing improvements planned with future developments, Ploehn said.
"There might need to be some pedestrian overpasses as we continue to do development west of I-74 after the old bridge comes down," Ploehn said.
The city will not consider an overpass at every crossing, Morlok said.
"An average one, without going into any real engineering, was in the range of $6 million to $8 million for each, and that’s a fairly basic overpass," Morlok said. "It’s nothing decorative. It’s just concrete beams and gets you over it."
Ploehn said this agreement with Canadian Pacific to receive the money means the City cannot oppose the merger moving forward.
Davenport and LeClaire are also in negotiations with Canadian Pacific on a proposed merger with Kansas City Southern.
"From the outset, CP has committed to working with communities to address their concerns and we are very pleased to have reached this agreement with the City of Bettendorf," said Canadian Pacific Media Relations Manager Andy Cummings, in an email to News 8. "CP is engaged in productive discussions with a number of communities, including in Iowa. We are very optimistic that we will reach additional agreements that will address the needs of those individual communities. The agreement was reached following a number of discussions between CP and city leaders. We’d like to thank Mayor Gallagher and other city officials for their efforts throughout the process."