Local officials meet ahead of Congressional rail safety hearing - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Local officials meet ahead of Congressional rail safety hearing

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WINONA, Minn. (WXOW) - New railroad safety measures are set to take effect next month.

These changes are coming because of recent train derailments involving hazardous materials.

Minnesota Representative Tim Walz asked for a congressional hearing on rail safety and called local officials together Monday to discuss their concerns.

Officials from Winona, La Crescent and La Crosse talked about a coordinated response, specifically focusing on the border issue between La Crosse and La Crescent.

The City of La Crosse handles haz-mat response for nine Wisconsin counties from Trempealeau to Crawford.

But the team can't respond to La Crescent because it's in another state. First responders said the first 72 hours is the most crucial response time after a train derailment. Having La Crosse be able to respond to La Crescent would be key in minimizing damage if a train derailment occurred. 

Rep. Walz said, "In the case of a catastrophic event on either side of the river, we need to make sure if the expertise is with that haz-mat team in La Crosse. Then they have the ability to respond and are part of the team."

La Crosse Fire Chief Gregg Cleveland says he's concerned about having enough resources on hand in the event of a train fire.

The U.S. House of Representatives, along with Homeland Security and representatives from the Federal Railroad Administration will meet Wednesday for the rail safety hearing.

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