BNSF, city officials working out details for second railroad tra - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

BNSF, city officials working out details for second railroad track in La Crosse

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) - The city of La Crosse is getting closer to having a second railroad track near the Forest Hills Golf Course.

Recently BNSF, who wants to build the second track, has offered to help the city pay for work that would need to be done surrounding the golf course, but only if the city stops objecting to the track.

The BNSF railroad has requested the extra track in order to better meet demand for freight rail service.

That second line would be added from Gillette Street to Farnam Street or from Logan to Central High School.

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat has put a team together to negotiate with BNSF on the terms of that agreement. BNSF told Mayor Kabat they would do three specific things to help get the city's approval for the second track.

Mayor Kabat said he's willing to work with BNSF if they add certain things to that agreement.

"We've come to them and said as far as we're concerned everything is fine...but if you're going to do something that impacts our utilities, golf course, emergency services, or neighborhoods, the taxpayers should not be on the hook for that," said Mayor Kabat.


To get the city to let BNSF build the second railroad track they've told Mayor Kabat they will install a tunnel underneath the railroad tracks by the golf course so golfers and pedestrians can safely cross.

They said they would give the city $50,000 which the city plans to use to fix street crossings to make room for the track. BNSF also said it would design and construct new utility lines that are currently in the way of the second track.

"We're concerned that BNSF is not doing enough," Alan Stankevitz, the co-founder of the Citizens Acting for Rail Safety or CARS said.  Stankevitz said because the trains are carrying more hazardous materials, BNSF should help prepare our first responders for a potential hazardous situation.  "We need more foam. we'd like to see BNSF fund more foam for the city," Stankevitz said.

More foam and more funding are what both Mayor Kabat and the Citizens Acting for Rail Safety would like to get out of BNSF before they move forward with a second track.

One main concern the mayor has with the offer is that it doesn't detail emergency equipment and services.

Mayor Kabat said he wants to add to the agreement more training for first responders and firefighters on train derailments, a foam car, and more equipment and training in case there's a spill in the marsh.

Seven acres of the marsh would have to be filled to make the second track. The railroad has to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to get that approval.

In the next couple weeks Mayor Kabat, Council President Dick Swantz, and the Head of the Judiciary and Administrative Committee Bob Seaquist will meet with BNSF representatives to ask that those additional requests be added to the agreement.

BNSF wants to begin building the second track later this year.

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