Emerson opposes boost in train traffic for Scott County

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

SIKESTON, Mo. -- U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson wants Sikeston city leaders to know she stands with them in their opposition to a proposed train traffic increase through their city.

On Tuesday, Emerson visited Sikeston city leaders and toured the areas that would be affected by increased train traffic to give her ammunition to take back to Washington, D.C.

Last March, Union Pacific proposed a swap of 23 miles of track from Rockview to Dexter with Burlington Northern Santa Fe in exchange for track in Colorado. The proposal, under review by the federal Surface Transportation Safety Board since March, immediately drew fire from Scott County residents and political leaders.

In her meeting Tuesday with Sikeston Mayor Mike Marshall and city administrator Doug Friend, Emerson said the proposed move was a "huge problem."

"There's no way that we could possibly be in favor of something like that," said Emerson. She said the swap would increase traffic through the city and county without any measurable economic gain for the area.

Marshall said the railroad plans to route an additional 24 trains through Sikeston, adding to the four to eight trains running through the city every day.

Marshall and Friend said the tracks cut off much of the city's population from emergency services by splitting the town in half. A train stalled on the track would separate a school, three residential care facilities and a sheltered workshop with 150 employees from emergency services, Friend said.

Following a talk with city leaders at city hall, Emerson toured the sites where train traffic will be increased. The key stop was the intersection of tracks on Salcedo Road, which separate the city's middle school from many of the town's services.

Emerson said her next step will be to talk to Union Pacific senior officials and to take her concerns directly to the Surface Transportation Board, which may make a decision by March.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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