A federal board that regulates train acquisitions heard from Iowans for two hours last night speaking out against Canadian Pacific’s sprawling acquisition of Kansas City Southern.

Michelle Solis Russell, of Davenport, called the silence from her own city council deafening. Russell says, “Not one person stood up when you asked for city officials, and the reason is, here in our town, we don’t agree with our city leader’s decision to accept the CP money.”

Ahead of the public comment period, Canadian Pacific offered money to towns in exchange for not opposing the acquisition, including $10 million promised to Davenport, $3 million to both Bettendorf and Muscatine, and $750,000 dollars to Le Claire.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board extended its public comment meeting into the night as speakers lined up to oppose Canadian Pacific’s expansion all the way to Mexico. Rebecca Howe is the president of the Merrill Hotel in Muscatine, one of the many railroad towns in eastern Iowa expecting to see some of the highest increases in train traffic.

“With the railroad coming in and it’s really unclear as to exactly what they are doing,” Howe says. “That’s going to have a drastic effect on the downtown and the riverfront which is the biggest asset Muscatine has.” Towns in eastern Iowa are anticipated to see the highest traffic increases nationally. An environmental study estimated an additional 15 trains per day, on average.

The board is expected to decide whether to approve the deal by early next year.

(By Zachary Oren Smith, Iowa Public Radio)