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Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN

CN, Wisconsin town resolve dispute over future autoport site

The railroad is developing a joint automotive and intermodal facility on a 58-acre parcel in the northwestern Wisconsin town of Richmond..
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The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Railroads (OCR) has issued an order that resolves a dispute between CN's Wisconsin Central Ltd. (WCL) line and the town of Richmond in St. Croix County over the railroad's plan for a new autoport and intermodal shipping facility in the area.

Issued Sept. 14, the OCR's order calls for the town to relocate 105th Street to avoid establishing a new crossing of proposed siding tracks with 105th Street at its current location.

The railroad is developing a joint automotive and intermodal facility on a 58-acre parcel south of State Highway 64 and east of 105th Street in Richmond. The area is located in northwestern Wisconsin.

The autoport would ship new vehicles via rail to another facility, where they can be transferred to regional car dealerships in the upper Midwest. The proposed intermodal facility is designed to transfer the shipping containers between truck and rail, inbound and outbound, empty or with cargo

WCL officials expect the facility will receive train service twice daily, five to seven days a week, not including several daily switch movements.

The railroad plans to serve the facility via a new siding track off of its Minneapolis Subdivision mainline with a crossing at 105th. 

For more than a year, town of Richmond, city of New Richmond and railroad officials have been at odds over the relocation of 105th Street and a related crossing. The OCR order, which corresponds to the agreement reached between the town, city and the railroad, in part calls for:

• WCL to construct a private road from the current 105th Street to County Road A. The railroad, which will maintain the road, will allow emergency vehicles to use it.

• closing 105th Street south of a private grade crossing that connect WCL's mainline via a spur track to the new autoport and intermodal facility. WCL will construct a cul-de-sac on 105th Street. The street would dead-end at the cul-de sac. The railroad will remove and restore to a natural condition part of the street north of the cul-de-sac/rail spur.

• the railroad to pay $175,000 to settle the town's ownership rights to the part of the street that will be closed.

The agreement clears the path for CN to move ahead on completing a 2,000-slot parking lot and intermodal staging area, according to a report in

Although the agreement is not perfect, it meets the needs of the town and taxpayers, town of Richmond Attorney Tim O'Brien said in a statement to the news outlet. And New Richmond City Administrator Noah Widenfeld said the agreement and OCR order is positive because it will keep heavy truck traffic from the facility to County Road A and Highway 64 corridor.

"Canadian National, and its operations, have a significant impact on the city of New Richmond with its rail line running through the heart of the city," Widenfeld said, according to the news report. "The city looks forward to a positive working relationship with Canadian National and future opportunities for collaboration." 

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/1/2020