The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 4, 2013

UP eyes South Clinton land

By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — The Clinton City Council will consider selling four properties in south Clinton to Union Pacific Railroad following the support of the sale from the City Plan Commission.

Union Pacific plans to construct a $400 million clear span bridge over the Mississippi River into Clinton. The new bridge will replace the more than century old swing span bridge that routinely causes train traffic to stop in order to allow for barge traffic to move along the river.

As part of the bridge replacement project, Union Pacific officials have asked the city of Clinton for permission to purchase four city owned residential lots near the 200 block of 12th Avenue South in South Clinton. Those properties are: 231 11th Ave. South, 237 11th Ave. South, 1106 S. Third St., 1111 S. Third St. These properties would serve as a buffer zone once the bridge is completed.

“The city has owned them for a number of years. They’re vacant. We don’t have any use for them. The council has been trying to divest ourselves of unused lots and so I’m sure the council would be in favor of it,” City Attorney Jeff Farwell told Plan Commission members.

While the properties are close to the railroad project, they are outside of the proposed bridge right of way, meaning Union Pacific would need to purchase the lots for fair market value.

During the City Plan Commission meeting on Wednesday members agreed to forward a recommendation to the City Council that the properties be sold for their appraised value, a collective $103,500.

Union Pacific has already acquired several properties in Clinton and Fulton for the project and is in the process of obtaining seven more from Archer Daniels Midland. The ADM lots are adjacent to the lots Union Pacific would like to purchase from the city.

“It just makes sense. If they get the bridge built and these trains are going to be going by at a higher speed than they are going by now, there’s going to be noise,” Commission member Tom Lonergan said.

The property sales came before the Plan Commission previously and was delayed because commission members had more questions about Union Pacific’s intention for the land. Commission member Jim McGraw raised some concerns that the questions still had not been answered.

In a letter to Farwell from Union Pacific’s Senior Manager of Real Estate Mark Jensen, Jensen said the Union Pacific is not prepared to provide a public map of the dimensions of the project, preliminary engineering alignment or buffer zone dimensions that would answer some of the questions previously posed by Plan Commission members. Jensen also did not know whether the parcels would be used during construction of the bridge.

McGraw also noted the properties in question were a considerable distance from the area that is anticipated to be occupied by the railroad tracks.

Lonergan asserted that although the properties appear to be noticeably separate from the proposed tracks, their purchase would ensure that Union Pacific was not creating a disturbance with the speedier trains.

“They’re trying to avoid future problems. If trains are going by faster and they’re making more vibrations they don’t want to have complaints from these properties,” Lonergan said.

With a unanimous recommendation from the Plan Commission, the sale will move forward to the City Council for approval.