The Dark Side Of Corporate And Government Collusion (An Update)
by Jason Bradley
As explained in Andrew’s recent article (https://communitysolutionsmn.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/crystal-getting-railroaded/), that the Canadian Pacific (CP) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroads (BNSF) are looking to share some track to relieve congestion from the conjunction of the Northtown and University yards by joining the two companies’ tracks in Crystal and sending CP trains (running east and west north of 49th Ave and south of 52nd Ave) down the BNSF track (running north and south alongside Broadway Ave) toward Minneapolis. According to Crystal City documents, only one or two trains use the BNSF track per day, and several dozen use the CP track. The CP trains are up to 4,000 ft long, which according to the City “would simultaneously close all four of the Crystal crossings: Douglas Drive (CR 102), West Broadway (CR 8), Corvallis and again at West Broadway.” They go on to say, “Trains of up to 5,600 feet have been observed on the CP. If these are diverted to the BNSF, then the 45½ Avenue crossing in Robbinsdale also would be closed simultaneously with Crystal’s four crossings; meaning that all crossings between Winnetka Avenue in New Hope and Highway 100 in Robbinsdale, a track distance of 2¼ miles through a fully developed urban area, would be closed by a single train”. This will hamper police, fire, and ambulance. While we can pull other Cities’ resources away (if they are not already indisposed) for fire and police in case of a blocked crossing, I don’t see where medical back-up can come from in time. We’re talking about people’s lives here.
To build this connector track, they will need to take land from North Suburban Towing/ Thomas Auto Body, Red Rooster Autoparts, and Midwest Mastercraft. I’m sure you’ve already seen some of the markers on Broadway between the railroad tracks and Corvallis. The railroad already told North Suburban Towing to take their fair price, because they were going to take the property anyway.
You heard me right. The federal government gave eminent domain rights to the railroads in the 1875
General Railroad Right of Way Act. Now, whether you agree with it or not, when families acquired land in the Homestead Act, railroads were not even a figment of someone’s imagination. To build the railroad network, one might be able to make a case for using eminent domain, but now? The railroad system is built from coast to coast. It’s one thing to strike a deal for land; it’s another for a private business (which the railroads are) to be able to steal land away with the wave of a hand.
According to the State of MN and the railroads, there’s nothing we can do about this. City staff says, “The City’s legal counsel have advised that the proposed rail connection is not subject to any local, county or state permitting or review processes.” MNDOT did a grade crossing safety study last year, and did not include these plans in their report, that would allow for funding to correct any adverse effects of this project. MNDOT and the railroads are refusing to consult with Crystal. These robber barons are so sure of their place in the social pecking order, that they won’t even give the City the time of day. In the January 17, 2015 article “BNSF, Canadian Pacific to link Twin Cities rail lines” in Trains magazine, they are already talking like it’s a done deal. Quotes such as “A new connection will be built” don’t leave a lot of room for an alternate plan. The railroads repeatedly deny having plans or drawings, but are already working on purchasing the land. Why would you do that without a plan? Once the railroads decide to go, it will happen fast. Word on the street is that the project completion date is slated for end of this summer. Cities need to work quickly, and start now.
If you are in Robbinsdale and Golden Valley, you will be the recipient of all this new rail traffic. Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, and New Hope, we will be calling your resources away any time there is an emergency and the CP trains are blocking emergency vehicles. What are you going to do about it? I would ask that Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, and New Hope all throw their support behind Crystal. I ask that you write a letter to the City (asap) telling them that you support not only their position, but any steps they deem necessary to maintain control of traffic within their City. Helping us will only help you. Several dozen trains a day blocking all of the crossings for extended periods of time will increase strain on your departments.
This antiquated law from 1875 is no longer necessary. Why is a government giving eminent domain powers to a private business? Why the favoritism? I’m pretty sure I can speak for many of the residents of northeastern Crystal when I say that we’re tired of the competition between Mike Opat, CP, BNSF, and the old Crystal Council, to make our corner of Crystal the dumping ground for every undesirable project they can imagine.
As Pink Floyd said (and I might be paraphrasing a bit here), “There is no dark side of corporate and government collusion, really… as a matter of fact, it’s all dark.
Jason Bradley is an entrepreneur in the music industry (Jason Bradley Liveand Paper Lanterns Intl) and owns a consulting/advocacy/education firm that specializes in non-partisan politics (Community Solutions MN). Jason Bradley helps others to reach their goals in music and reduce the size and influence of government.
Connect with Jason on Google+
Entry filed under: Community, Safety. Tags: 1875 General Railroad Right of Way Act, BNSF, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Canadian Pacific, Community Solutions, Community Solutions MN, CP, Crystal, CSMN, DOT, eminent domain, Golden Valley, Jason Bradley, Mike Opat, Minnesota, MN, MNDOT, New Hope, Railroad, Robbinsdale, Trains Magazine.