A new rail line could be going through La Crosse , but a local group is trying to stop it. Some concerned residents have formed a group called Citizens Acting for Rail Safety, or CARS, and they're trying to educate the public about the dangers of an added line.
CARS was formed in January and nearly 100 people showed up to its first meeting to voice concerns. BNSF is looking to add about 4 miles of track in the La Crosse area near Forest Hills Golf Course to move trains more efficiently, but the CARS group said the track is only going to cause more problems.
CARS said there are about 75 trains traveling on the BNSF line through La Crosse every day. They worry that adding a second line invites more traffic.
"I mean they're worried about noise and vibration," George Nygaard, a member of CARS, said.
With a second line in the city the groups expect more DOT 111 tanker train cars, which generally carry crude oil. The organization said the oil tankers are proven unsafe and fear the tankers would create a safety hazard to nearby schools, homes and the environment.
"There's a lot of people that are concerned about the marsh and the expansion if you put another bed there, but I'm worried about the upper Mississippi wildlife," Nygaard said.
But BNSF Railway said if a second track is created that wouldn't be an issue.
"BNSF believes that tougher tank car standards have to be implemented. The older DOT 111 cars should be phased out," Amy McBeth, BNSF Railway spokesperson, said
McBeth said BNSF doesn't expect more rail traffic in the area.
"Similar to lanes on a highway, if you add an additional lane on a highway it doesn't mean you're doubling the traffic that's going to be on the highway, it means that you're helping move the traffic that is there move more efficiently through," McBeth said.
Another key concern from members of CARS was overall safety. BNSF said there would be no added safety risk, and said that 2012 and 2013 were the safest years on record for the rail industry.
The CARS group is hosting a meeting Tuesday, April 22, at Central High School in La Crosse to discuss their concerns with the mayor and some local lawmakers. The meeting is at 7 p.m. and open to the public.