Democrat Mike Franken opposes plan to merge 2 railroads

Mexico-Canada line would triple rail traffic in Iowa’s Mississippi River towns

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken speaks during a Thursday stop at the Crane & Pelican Cafe in LeClaire with Iowa Democratic candidates (left to right) Monica Kurth, House 89; Mary Kathleen Figaro, Senate 47; and Cindy Winckler, Senate 49. Franken said he sees no benefit to Iowa in the proposed merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railroads, which would increase rail traffic in Iowa cities along the Mississippi River. (Gary Krambeck/Quad-City Times)

LECLAIRE — Some say that all politics is local.

And the prospect of a merger between two North American railroad companies has been a problem for residents and business owners along the Mississippi River railroads in Scott County.

“I don’t see any good for the state of Iowa” in the proposed merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern, Franken said during a Thursday stop at the Crane & Pelican Cafe in LeClaire.

“These trains don’t stop here, they don’t carry Iowa products. … Iowa is a pass. We’re known as a flyover. Now we’re a rail-over. We have to stop this because that this is not good for the future of the state of Iowa.

The two rail companies want to merge and create a single-line rail system linking Mexico via the United States to Canada. Eastern Iowa would bear the brunt of additional rail traffic as a result of the proposed deal.

Residents’ concerns about the merger include increased train traffic that could block access for emergency responders and lead to increased noise and the risk of derailments and hazardous spills.

Franken, who is running against longtime U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, criticized the handling of the merger by the federal Surface Transportation Board, which he said was underfunded to fully assess the proposal.

A report, published in August, found that the merger would have “negligible” effects, apart from increased noise in some areas.

“Let’s look at the process associated with how this was done, and rectify the process so that it is not replicated elsewhere where cities were divided and conquered with a checkbook.”

Franken also called for a “new and improved” rail transportation system in the United States with greater investment in high-speed electric rail systems that don’t run through the center of small towns.

A spokesperson for Grassley previously told a reporter that the senator and his staff are “closely monitoring these discussions and listening to Iowans who may be affected” and continue to facilitate conversations between Iowans and the Surface Transportation Board.

Railway merger

On the advice of federal transportation officials, officials from Davenport, Bettendorf, Muscatine and LeClaire approved settlement agreements with Canadian Pacific regarding the merger. In some cases, cities will receive millions of dollars if the merger is approved – in exchange for not commenting further on the proposed merger.

In Davenport, city officials said the settlement money would pay for mitigation efforts to manage the increased number of trains.

Railroads said they expect rail traffic to triple between Kansas City and Sabula, Iowa, in Jackson County. About eight trains pass along these tracks today; which would increase to around 22 trains by 2027.

It may be a niche issue, but for Princeton resident Ann Geiger, Franken’s interest is one of the reasons she’s considering voting for him.

A lifelong Republican, Geiger said she only voted for two statewide Democrats — Tom Vilsack and Harold Hughes, who became governors of Iowa. But her attitude has changed, she said, with the rise of Donald Trump, particularly when he questioned and tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“It’s terrifying that a single individual can almost overthrow democracy,” Geiger said.

Davenport Stop

At a campaign rally later that evening at the River Center in Davenport, Franken told a group of about 70 people he would put ‘country above party’, support access to abortion , would continue congressional support for Ukraine and push for investments in public education and jobs. coaching.

A recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll showed Franken within 3 percentage points of Grassley. Republicans called the poll an outlier, pointing to other polls that show Grassley with a more substantial lead.

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