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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

Four railroads advance joint line relocation plan in Iowa


BNSF Railway Co., Union Pacific Railroad, CBEC Railway Inc. and Iowa Interstate Railroad Ltd. (IAIS) jointly filed a verified notice of exemption with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) late last month to relocate lines in Council Bluffs, Iowa, for the reconstruction of Interstates 80 and 29.

Managed by the Iowa Department of Transportation, the interchange project involves a joint line relocation initiative among the four railroads and IAIS' acquisition of a BNSF-owned line.

Among the moves planned by the four railroads:
• BNSF would close its Council Bluffs yard and convey the underlying land to the state of Iowa, and abandon/relocate two line segments in its Council Bluffs Subdivision;
• CBEC would abandon its 2.8-mile mainline and relocate it to the west bank of Mosquito Creek;
• UP would reassign trackage rights to CBEC's newly constructed mainline;
• BNSF and CBEC would establish a crossover connection between their newly constructed and parallel mainlines on the west side of Mosquito Creek, and create an opposite-direction crossover;
• BNSF would grant certain overhead trackage rights to IAIS; and
• BNSF and IAIS would establish new connections to enable the Class I to cross IAIS' line to reach its Bayard Subdivision through a dual switch arrangement.

The proposed joint relocation project will not disrupt service to shippers or expand the railroads' services into a new territory, the STB determined in an Oct. 30 decision, adding that there are no shippers located on the rail segments proposed for abandonment.

"The board will exercise jurisdiction over the abandonment, construction or sale components of a relocation project, and require separate approval or exemption, only where the removal of track affects service to shippers or the construction of new track or transfer of existing track involves expansion into new territory," board members said in the decision.

The transaction can be consummated on or after Nov. 13, the exemption's effective date, STB members ruled.