BNSF makes bigger push for second rail track in La Crosse

Company adds extra incentives for City

BNSF adds extra incentives with hopes of speeding up the process of adding a second rail line through part of La Crosse.

The rail company wants to add about four miles of track from near Kmart through Forest Hills Golf Course and part of the marsh. There’s already one track running there.

In a letter to the City of La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat, BNSF offered the City three things:

A payment of $50,000 to close two private, unlicensed at-grade crossings through the BNSF right-of-way at the golf course BNSF will design and build an underpass bridge at the golf course to replace the at-grade crossings and work with the City to attempt to minimize construction impacts to the course during the peak golf season. BNSF will own and maintain the bridge structure. Design and relocation construction for the 12 City-owned utility lines that are located within th BNSF right of way, and which would be impacted by the project.

In return, the City would have to speed up approving the project and not contest if BNSF owns the property along the golf course. That’s been a sticking point in the debate, as both sides try to dig up paperwork from the 1870’s.

“The City still does feel strongly that we own the property on the golf course where those two at grade crossings are. And so there’s a bit of a difference there, because the railroad is suggesting they own the property,” Mayor Kabat said.

The city is taking 30 days to decide its course of action. BNSF wants to start construction before the year ends and start using the track in 2015.