Two members of Minnesota's congressional delegation have asked federal transportation authorities to resolve a long-standing dispute involving empty rail cars parked near peoples' homes in Lakeville.

In a July 5 letter, Republican Rep. John Kline, whose district includes Lakeville, and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked the Surface Transportation Board to press Progress Rail Inc., to find a solution for the rail cars it has stored near Lakeville neighborhoods for about three years. Homeowners have said the cars are an eyesore that hurt property values and are a crime and safety hazard.

The Lakeville firm doesn't own the cars that it parks on the west side of town. It handles them for other companies on tracks it leases from Canadian Pacific Railway. Progressive occasionally moves cars in or out, but residents say the number has remained basically the same at about 350.

City officials and residents have been unable to get Progressive to move or reduce the number of cars. The company has cited federal law, which permits the cars to be parked there.

"The storage of these rail cars has caused adjacent residential property owners to express concerns regarding negative effects on their homes and the general welfare of the community," the letter from Klobuchar and Kline said. "We request your assistance in facilitating a resolution to this ongoing impasse."

The Surface Transportation Board is a regulatory agency whose duties include resolving railroad rate and service disputes.

City officials and residents previously contacted Kline, Klobuchar and Democratic Sen. Al Franken urging changes in federal laws. The Lakeville City Council also included the issue among its top legislative policy priorities for this year.

"We're glad to see our federally elected officials make this request to look into the issue," said Dave Olson, Lakeville community and economic development director.

Officials of Progressive declined to comment on the letter.

Susan Feyder • 952-746-3282