CP Rail pushes for Pig’s Eye yard expansion

Would fill in wetlands, could threaten rare turtle

Canadian Pacific Railroad hopes to fill 6 acres of wetland to expand its Pig’s Eye switching yard, located near the intersection of Highway 61 and Lower Afton Road.

The project would add track to the switching yard, allowing longer trains to pass through and boosting the overall capacity of the yard. It would also add an access road.

Six acres of wetlands in a strip along the eastern edge of Pig’s Eye Lake would be filled in under the proposal. Pig’s Eye Lake is a DNR-protected public body of water.

According to the DNR, the proposed projects could endanger Blanding’s turtles, a state-listed threatened species, and other wildlife. A letter from the DNR states that the turtles have been found near the site of the proposed project.

Because of the magnitude of the wetland impacts, the project had to go through an environmental assessment. The City of St. Paul released a 30-page environmental assessment worksheet March 31, outlining potential effects the project would have on the surrounding area.

A public meeting on the proposed project and the EAW will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 at the Battle Creek Recreation Center, at 75 Winthrop St. S., St. Paul. Representatives of CP Rail, the City of St. Paul, and the consultants who prepared the Environmental Assesment Worksheet will be available at the meeting to answer questions.

The public has until April 30 to comment on the findings of the assessment. Comments can be posted at www.stpaul.gov/open, emailed to josh.williams@ci.stpaul.mn.us, or mailed to Josh Williams, City of St. Paul - PED, 25 W. Fourth St., Suite 1300, St. Paul, MN, 55102.

Nearly 2 miles  of train cars

According to the EAW, the CP Rail project “will expand the length of the tracks so that they can handle 10,000-foot trains. This will mean that less switching will be required -- reducing congestion on the mainline and reducing the use of locomotives for splitting trains, and related locomotive fuel consumption, exhaust, and noise related to switching operations at the yard.”

Nearby residents have complained for years about noise and pollution from the railyard, which has seen an uptick in activity in recent years.

Residents have petitioned CP Rail in hopes of gaining leverage against the rail noise and pollution.

According to the EAW, the proposed track extension to the south will bring the St. Paul yard closer to the homes below the bluff along Highway 61 and Point Douglas Road.

To view the EAW, visit www.stpaul.gov/cpraileaw.

-- Patrick Larkin

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