Supervisors continue to monitor railroad merger impact

·3 min read

Sep. 22—CLINTON — Hoping Camanche will get the funding it needs to pay for public safety measures, the Clinton County Board of Supervisors this week continued to discuss a proposed railroad merger and what it could mean for Camanche residents.

At issue is the proposed merger between the Canadian Pacific Railroad and Kansas City Southern Railroad being considered and to be decided by the Surface Transportation Board. Local officials say the plan is for trains to carry bituminous oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. In preparation for a merger, Canadian Pacific representatives have been negotiating with cities located on the route so they won't oppose the merger and giving them money to spend on safety, if they so choose.

Muscatine and Bettendorf each negotiated receiving $3 million, while Davenport will get $10 million. The Clinton City Council last week agreed to accept $1 million.

Meanwhile, Camanche was offered $200,000 in exchange for closing two crossings or $300,000 for closing three crossings. Camanche City Administrator Andrew Kida countered CP's proposal, telling the railroad that Camanche would not oppose the merger if the railroad pays the city $2.5 million for quiet zones and to cover video cameras at crossings to let first responders know if any crossings are blocked at any given time, and agrees to not to permanently close any crossings. CP turned down that offer.

The Board of Supervisors on Monday continued to express concerns.

Supervisor Dan Srp, of Camanche, said he does not oppose the merger, but is concerned for the safety of Camanche residents. He says the railroad has been dismissive of what the merger's impact will have on the city.

"Camanche is unique and I don't think they've been given any unique consideration," Srp said.

In Camanche's case, 409 households on the east side of the railroad tracks could be cut off from emergency services should a train block all city crossings for an extended length of time. City officials have said that is a possibility, since, after the merger, the length of trains is expected to grow to at least one mile long, which is greater than the distance between the crossings on each end of town. Also of concern is the increase in train traffic, expected to go from estimated 8 to 22 trains on any given day.

"I think we need cameras on all the crossings," said Supervisor Tom Determann.

The Supervisors said they will continue to keep the railroad merger on its agenda for the coming weeks as they decide how to best support Camanche.

The Clinton County Board of Supervisors also on Monday:

—authorized to stop issuance of biweekly paychecks to Karen Jess-Jungen, a 30-year employee of the Clinton County Sheriff's Office who is retiring. Her last day will be Sept. 30, with accrued benefits to be paid out Oct. 7.

—authorized a change in payroll for Scott Reyhons, a Clinton County sheriff's office sergeant who has been promoted to the rank of lieutenant. The promotion went into effect Sunday at a salary rate of $95,150.

—approved the appointment of Jill Schmidt to the position of environmental education coordinator with the Clinton County Conservation at a rate of $27.33 per hour. Her appointment went into effect Monday.