Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WASHINGTON — The Washington City Council voted unanimously to accept a counter offer from Canadian Pacific Railroad Tuesday night, signing off on an agreement that secures city funds from the company and municipal cooperation for a proposed merger between CP and Kansas City Southern, which would increase train traffic by over 300% in the area.
“I wanted to absolutely make sure that we get the best deal possible, and I believe this is that,” Mayor Jaron Rosien said. “This is the last, best, and final offer … it’s not going to get any better. Money has come in to other communities, we’re kind of one of the last ones on the table.”
The proposal was the same one tabled by council members at their previous meeting. It includes:
- A $200,000 cash contribution from the railroad, for use as the city sees fit
- Payments of $225,000 from the railroad for each crossing the city agrees to close
- A $55,000 contribution from the railroad for a quiet zone study
- Waived costs by the railroad for the removal of crossing surfaces, signals and signs at any crossing the city agrees to close
CP representative Larry Lloyd said there was no sunset clause on the offer, meaning the city could take advantage of crossing closures as far in the future as it wanted. Still, Lloyd said state and federal fund matching initiatives would likely run out of cash in the next few years.
“The agreement would still hold,” Lloyd said. “It’s conceivable that in five to six years, the bipartisan infrastructure law runs out, and that $100,000 match could go away, so that’s probably the incentive for you to do it sooner rather than later. But from CP’s perspective, that incentive is always there, we would love to close a crossing at any point in the future.”
City officials floated the idea of potentially reopening a crossing down the road, but Lloyd said the current regulatory environment made closures difficult to reverse.
“The general railroad standard is if you want to open a crossing, you need to close two,” he said. “The long-term plan, both by the railroads, Iowa DOT, U.S. DOT, Railroad administration, everybody, is to reduce the number of crossings. The general consensus is if you would ever want to put a crossing back into service, you would need to reduce that by two.”
The vote to approve the offer was unanimous, despite a few council members saying they still had reservations about the merger.
“We’re not going to improve the offer,” said Illa Earnest, who made the motion. “We may have questions that come along later, but it’s not going to influence the offer.”
Council Member Steve Gault was more blunt.
“I feel like I’m being held with a gun to my head,” he said. “This is being railroaded.”