Thanks to the Star Tribune for the recent coverage of the proposed connection between the Canadian Pacific and BNSF rail lines in Crystal. The impact of this proposal, however, goes far beyond what has been reported.
If the Canadian Pacific-BNSF “connector” proposal goes forward, increased rail traffic carrying more Bakken crude oil at higher speeds would negatively affect many communities in the west metro area. That’s why the city councils in our cities have or soon will endorse a resolution expressing significant concerns for the proposed connection and why they are calling on the federal Surface Transportation Board to conduct an environmental-impact statement.
More than a half-million Minnesotans — from Minneapolis to Plymouth and beyond — have much to lose if this proposal is approved. Milelong trains would block vital access points for fire, police and North Memorial Medical Center ambulances, along with key business routes. An increased amount of heavy freight, carrying explosive materials along older and questionably safe tracks, would soon travel through and next to prized parkland, waterways and Target Field. Faster train speeds and increased vibrations would disrupt peaceful neighborhoods and schools.
These scenarios are not hypothetical. A train carrying Bakken crude oil through rural West Virginia derailed and exploded last week, severely damaging environmentally sensitive areas. A similar accident in any one of our cities would be catastrophic.
Minnesota elected officials at the local, state and federal levels are working together to delay or alter this proposal. But everything must be done to protect our businesses, our schools and our communities. Please contact the Surface Transportation Board and urge it to deny this rail line connection proposal.
JIM ADAMS, SHEP HARRIS, KATHI HEMKEN and REGAN MURPHY
The writers are the mayors of Crystal, Golden Valley, New Hope and Robbinsdale, respectively.