An eastern Iowa city and a railroad company are at an impasse over the railroad’s need for speed and the city’s demand for improved crossings. Right now, there are 15 railroad crossings in the Jackson County town of Bellevue. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, that’s more per capita than any other city in the country. Bellevue Mayor Virgil Murray says the crossings are bumpy and he’s asked Canadian Pacific to make upgrades.
The railroad, meanwhile, wants to close some crossings and increase train speeds through town. “As the speeds go up, 15 crossings is too many to maintain the whistle ban, so you have to start closing crossings,” Murray said. Canadian Pacific wants the trains traveling through Bellevue at 20 miles per hour – double the current speed. But some Bellevue residents, like Jo Fifield, worry about having fewer crossings and faster trains.
“The railroad keeps talking safety. But they are only looking at it from their point of view. I don’t think they care about the town,” Fifield said. Canadian Pacific officials say they are concerned about safety, but insist changes are needed to boost the trains’ speed. Mayor Murray believes a compromise can be reached.
“I think we could live with the proposal we made of (closing) six crossings and trains can travel 20 miles per hour,” Murray said. In return, the railroad would make improvements at the remaining crossings so they provide a smoother ride for passing motorists. A city ordinance bans trains from blowing their whistle inside Bellevue city limits. Murray says that’s one thing that won’t be changed.
By Katie Wiedemann, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids