La Crosse Co. judge lifts halt on train traffic on second track

Trains can start using a second set of railroad tracks through La Crosse’s Marsh. That’s the ruling handed down Monday.

La Crosse Co. Judge Scott Horne removed a temporary stay on train traffic on Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s new rail line.

Back in March, the group “Citizens Acting For Rail Safety” or “C.A.R.S.” filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin DNR claiming it gave BNSF a wetland permit without a thorough environmental review.

The group also asked the court to look at the potential impact of train traffic on neighborhoods along the train track, which BNSF objected to, saying the delays would hurt the entire northern U.S. economy.    

The judge felt the stay wasn’t needed because the original track is already in use.

“The fact that continuing the stay would still result in the single track continuing to operate under the same terms and conditions and taking into account the briefs that have been submitted, I am finding the conditions no longer warrant continuation of the stay,” said Judge Scott Horne.

While members from C.A.R.S. were disappointed in the ruling, they say BNSF is only a small part of the actual case.

They say the real issue lies with the Wisconsin DNR.

“The merits of the case have to do with our challenge to the legality the process the DNR underwent in issuing the permit in building this second line without going through the process of an environmental assessment or impact statement,” said C.A.R.S. spokesperson Ralph Knudson.

The court will hear oral arguments from both sides on that part of the case next month.