As plans continue to move forward for a merger of the Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern Railroads, State Senator Seth Lewis (R-Bartlett) is asking officials to pump the brakes while safety, traffic disruption, and environmental impact concerns are addressed.
On Monday, Senator Lewis and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers met in Itasca for a press conference where they outlined their concerns. After the press conference, Senator Lewis, who represents six communities that would be affected by the merger, issued the following statement:
“The Biden administration and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg are currently dealing with one of the worst chemical transportation catastrophes our nation has ever seen. We cannot allow the Surface Transportation Board to ignore the many warning signs associated with this merger. In light of recent tragedies, we must stop and take time to review the conclusions put forth by the environmental impact study, and ensure issues related to safety, traffic disruption, and the environment are adequately addressed.
“Our federal delegation does not appear overly concerned with legitimate issues that have been brought forward. The addition of 11 new mile-long trains and the doubling or tripling of freight traffic has an undeniable impact on the communities involved. I have a responsibility to protect the safety of my constituents, and statements that the merger will have a net-zero impact on safety are false. Emergency response delays at rail crossings alone pose a great risk to public safety.
“If the train derailment in Ohio taught us anything, it is that we cannot be too careful when it comes to the safety of those who live or work in proximity to rail lines. There is no reason why we should not slow the process down and take the time to really understand the data and what it means to Illinois residents and business owners. Safety must be priority #1.”
“I believe in supporting commerce for the State of Illinois, but commercial success should not be at the expense of people’s safety and well-being. I also support the rail industry, but the railroad companies have behaved more like bullies than as valued community partners with regard to this merger. I hope they will re-examine their approach moving forward.”