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More train traffic could come to Davenport's riverfront

Canadian Pacific is looking to buy the Kansas City Southern rail system. If that happens, the amount of train traffic through downtown Davenport would nearly triple.
Credit: WQAD/Josh Lamberty

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Train traffic on the rails along Davenport's riverfront could become even more frequent in the next few years.

Canadian Pacific is looking to buy the Kansas City Southern rail system.

Train traffic was light on Friday afternoon near the Freight House farmer's market area in downtown Davenport. 

About five or six trains come through town each day, according to Lorrie Beaman, a local business owner at the Freight House.

"Now is that nice little novelty, the occasional train going through," Beaman said.

Beaman owns the Chill ice cream shop in the Freight House. She is also the farmer's market's executive director.

It's this novelty with which she is concerned for both her business and the farmer's market.

"When the trains come through, it's loud," Beaman said.

In a proposed merger between Canadian Pacific and the Kansas City Southern railways, train traffic through downtown would nearly triple each day, according to the merger's website.

Credit: Surface Transportation Board
This screenshot from the Surface Transportation Board website, which provides details about the merger's impact, shows the total trains per day before the merger is about eight. After the merger, the total trains per day would increase to about 23.

"When that increases, it will not be as pleasant of a place to be," Beaman said.

Beaman questions the immediate impact of a merger like this.

"It doesn't take a mathematician or genius to know that people aren't going to want to hang out, sit on the deck if that's something that's a little more constant," Beaman said.

Beaman said she is worried about safety for the farmer's market, when overflow parking areas are across the railroad tracks.

"The potential for derailment is a little frightening when you have that much more traffic," Marion Meginnis said.

Meginnis is Davenport's third ward alderman, which includes the downtown riverfront area.

Meginnis joined the entire city council in signing a letter sharing concerns about the merger, and how it would impact the city at large.

Credit: City of Davenport
Credit: City of Davenport

"There's a lot of issues with this, from access, to safety to noise, that we're concerned about as a city," Meginnis said.

There could be an even bigger impact on the riverfront access during larger events at LeClaire Park, since there are only a handful of trains going by right now.

More traffic in this location might soon drive other traffic away.

"COVID isn't gone yet. We're still feeling the effects of that and we may be feeling that for a while," Beaman said.

The merger would not happen until late 2022 at the earliest, according to a timeline on the merger's website. However, public comment time only runs through January 3, 2022.

If you would like to share your comments about the proposed railway merger, you can do that here until early January.

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