I know what a trying year it’s been so far for Quad Citians, dealing with the highest-ever crest on the Mississippi and other substantial crests. I sincerely thank all the city officers, business owners and residents that have supported CP personnel as we responded to the floods. Like many in the Quad Cities, our employees and contractors have worked long hours to respond to these challenging conditions. In our case, it was to ensure the safety and continued operation of our railway for the benefit of our customers and the broader economy.
With the water returning to normal levels, I look forward to continued collaboration with the City of Davenport in finding the best way forward for the tracks along the waterfront.
I ordered the track through downtown Davenport raised not only so CP could continue to serve Iowa businesses through the 2019 floods, but through future floods as well. The flooding this year was so widespread that the detour routes CP’s trains would ordinarily take also faced closure. CP has an obligation to its customers and the North American economy to do what it can, within reason, to keep commodities moving and plants open. The alternative is cut shifts, closed businesses and unfilled orders.
The rail corridor through downtown Davenport has coexisted with the city’s riverfront for well over a century, and that will continue. On this page, you can see a photo of CP’s tracks through downtown Davenport taken from River Drive in 2017, side by side with a rendering of what it’ll look like under CP’s plans for permanent crossings. The latter comes from computer simulations overlaid on an actual photo as the track appears at its new, higher elevation. As you can see, the difference is minimal, and the beautiful river view remains.
Davenport has a vision for its riverfront. I’ve made clear that CP wishes to participate and contribute to creating a design for its right-of-way that works with that vision. At the city’s request, CP has slowed the design work on permanent replacement crossings. When the time comes, these crossings will be built in close consultation with the city and will be built right, at CP’s cost. CP’s engineering department is in regular contact with the city, and that will continue.
I do encourage residents to consider the advantages of reducing the total number of crossings through downtown Davenport. Each crossing creates the risk of a person or vehicle coming into contact with a train. Some crossings, like Brady and Perry streets, provide access to the same section of riverfront and are just a block apart. Closing one of these crossings would not meaningfully reduce access, but would reduce the risk of a collision.
That said, it will be up to the city to decide whether to reduce the number of crossings. On behalf of CP’s 400 Iowa-based employees, I can tell you that we are committed to being a good neighbor in the communities we operate in and through. CP is willing to work with city leaders on any plan they like for accessing the riverfront so long as the number of crossings does not increase. That principle is based on good safety sense and federal guidelines.
My team looks forward to ongoing productive discussions with the City of Davenport to chart a path forward.