ITASCA, Ill. — Residents in the northwest suburbs are concerned about a proposed billion-dollar rail merger that could increase train traffic.
In a proposed $31 billion unification, Canadian Pacific Railway wants to buy Kansas City Southern, adding as many as 14 freight trains per day to Metra’s Milwaukee District West Line, which runs from Elgin to Bensenville.
The move would create the most extensive freight company from Canada to Mexico through the United States.
The trains could be nearly three miles long and cause additional crossing delays. Itasca Mayor Jeff Pruyn weighed in on concerns surrounding the proposal.
“Our biggest fear with the crossings being blocked is we only have one fire station in town and one ambulance on the South Side of the tracks,” the mayor said. “Most of our population is north of the tracks. The more trains, the more often the gates are down and that could delay our public safety response.”
Other communities impacted include Bartlett, Bensenville, Elgin, Hanover Park, Roselle, Wood Dale, and Schaumburg.
The Surface Transportation Board recently presented the results of a study that showed that the environmental impact would be minor or temporary outside of train noise.
But residents feel the group didn’t do a thorough enough job addressing their concerns.
Residents had an opportunity to voice their concerns at a public meeting Monday night, along with local police, fire chiefs and mayors. Elected leaders sounded off against the acquisition, saying data from an environmental impact study that showed any impact would be minor and temporary, is inconsistent and flawed.
“CP projects that the merger would increase freight traffic in our community from three freight trains per day to 11 freight trains per day,” Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said. “Metra and communities in my district there could actually be 18 freight trains per day.”
Krishnamoorthi and state senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin have signed letters of opposition.
Metra is also against the merger, saying it could cause delays for its passengers.
“We’re not against freight trains,” Pruyn said. “We know goods have to be moved, but we need to make sure our community stays safe. I think there are ways they can lessen their impact and I hope we can get there.”