LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – The city of La Crosse and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (B.N.S.F.) Railway are having ongoing discussions regarding the potential double railway project, and B.N.S.F Railway could have a contract proposal for the city this week.
B.N.S.F wants to add a second railroad track in La Crosse, which would be parallel to one railroad track, stretching from Central High School through Forest Hills Golf Course toward Logan High School—a nearly four mile rail expansion.
Currently, the city is using a title search for the golf course property. The city hopes to determine who owns the property, as a potential second railway would eliminate the golf course.
Initially, the city and B.N.S.F said a possible railway would affect 33 utility crossings between water utilities and sanitary storm sewers. On Monday, the city trimmed the number of utility crossings which could be affected by the railway, and determined that only 12 crossings would be affected by this potential project.
“Because of the timing of the project and the railroad’s desire to continue to move this along, what I’m imagining is that they are going to come to us with a proposal to help move that along,” City of La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said.
The Board of Public Works said they anticipate in B.N.S.F.’s upcoming contract proposal, B.N.S.F. would offer doing the engineering and design work for the potential second railway.
Kabat said the board learned today that B.N.S.F and city engineers have been talking about cost and engineering estimates for the project, and “significant progress could be made” this week.
La Crosse Police Chief Ron Tischer said in response to this project, there are rumors that some residents are planning to sit on areas of the railroad tracks in protest of the double railway project. Kabat said he understands resident’s concerns, but wants people to be safe.
“When you’re seeing and hearing about various derailments and spills and fires that are happening around the country, I know people are very concerned. I have not heard specifically about the protesting on the tracks, but I just hope people are safe,” Kabat said.
Tischer said residents who sit on the railroad tracks will be charged $187 for trespassing on private property.
Kabat said the next step for the railway project is for the city attorney to take a closer look at the title search related to Forest Hills Golf Course, which should help better determine land ownership.
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