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Rail News: Canadian Pacific Kansas City

CPKC asks STB to rule in dispute over Wisconsin bridge repairs


Canadian Pacific Kansas City has asked the Surface Transportation Board for a declaratory order in the railroad’s dispute with Wisconsin state officials over rail-bridge repairs conducted in Milwaukee.

CPKC is asking the STB to order that the federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA) preempts enforcement of Wisconsin permitting requirements when it comes to a railroad’s need to repair and maintain one of its bridges, according to the Oct. 27 filing with the STB.

The dispute surfaced in 2017 after Soo Line Railroad Co. — which is part of CPKC's operations in Wisconsin — conducted emergency repairs on a bridge that crosses  the Menomonee River in Milwaukee. The railroad discovered that the river had seriously eroded the river bed surrounding and under the abutment of the bridge, which is used by freight and Amtrak trains.

But after the railroad notified the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that it would repair the bridge, the DNR said the work first required studies and a "lengthy" permit process, according to CPKC’s filing.

Railroad officials were concerned that the delay in making the repairs would result in a bridge failure. So, following what they believed to be STB and court precedent that says the ICCTA preempts state pre-construction permitting requirements, railroad officials went ahead and completed the emergency repair work.

Now, nearly six years later, the Wisconsin DNR is threatening to file suit against CPKC to force the Class I to undo the work in order to implement the DNR’s preferred method of repair. The DNR also wants the railroad penalized for failing to meet state permitting requirements, according to the filing.

To read CPKC’s filing with the STB, click here.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/1/2023