A merger between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railroads is being considered which will impact the City of Washington. The merger will increase the number of trains coming through Washington on a daily basis, from 4 to possibly 22. The speed of these trains may also be affected. Currently trains run at a speed of 40 mph and may increase to 60 mph. The studies indicate that with the merger and increase in train traffic, 64,000 trucks will be taken off the road with 75% reduction in emissions.
An environmental review was conducted as a requirement of the merger process, which reviewed the grade crossings, noise and vibration. The current step for the merger is in the hands of the Surface Transportation Board’s Office. They are reviewing the Final Environmental Impact Statement and comments received and make a final decision on the proposed acquisition, which may include environmental mitigating conditions to impose.
When word of the proposed merger was received by the City of Washington, meetings were held with Canadian Pacific representatives. We voiced our concern and asked many questions on the process and how it would impact the City of Washington. Following those meetings, negotiations continued with Canadian Pacific to reach an agreement with the railroad to assist with a quiet zone study to obtain information on what the best decision would be for Washington. Conducting a quiet zone study is the first step in reviewing the overall railroad safety scenario. The City approved having a quiet zone study completed so elected officials have accurate information to make an informed decision on whether or not to implement a quiet zone. The quiet zone study is costing the City $36,000. With our agreement with Canadian Pacific, the City is receiving $200,000 as a voluntary community investment and to pay for a quiet zone study, which is valued at $55,000.
A quiet zone is a section of railroad where the routine sounding of train horns is not allowed. A quiet zone must be at least ½ mile long and includes all crossings within the quiet zone limits. Within a quiet zone, all railroad crossings must meet pre-qualifying criteria, which includes gates and flashing lights, power-out indicators and constant warning time detectors. The only constant warning time detector within the city limits of Washington along the rail system is at D Ave. When a quiet zone is implemented supplementary safety measures must be added at the open crossings, including four-quadrant gates, medians, closures, one-way streets or wayside horns.
Also, included in our offer is additional funding if we close some railroad crossings since fewer crossings reduce the risk. As part of the quiet zone study, the consultant reviewed every railroad crossing and developed some scenarios for the elected officials to consider. One scenario includes closing 3 crossings and adding improved gates at the open crossings. With this scenario even with the money received from the railroad and $100,000 from the DOT per crossing closed and with Canadian Pacific paying to add 2 quad gates at 2 crossings, the City would still need to fund $395,000. One important element to note, if the City closes any crossings, it cannot be reopened without the closure of two others.
If the City chooses not to implement a quiet zone, then nothing would need to be done at the railroad crossings by the city, Canadian Pacific does plan to make some upgrades to the rail line though in 2023.
- To view the interactive map of the railroad lines from Canada to Mexico of the Canadian Pacific acquisition of Kansas City Southernfollow this link: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/665e5f3b1412406ea49454f573aefd35
Contact City Hall if you have further questions.