Did you consider locations other than the Otis road location?
When looking for a new location, we explored five options close to the facility. Four of the properties were not feasible due to challenges posed by insufficient space, changes in elevation, topography layout and entrance/ exit safety issues.
The Otis Road location, owned by the City of Cedar Rapids, was the most favorable of the five as it addressed many of the challenges faced with the other locations.
That said, however, we are continuing to reassess locations and looking at new locations.
Why does Cargill need to own its own rail yard when it’s been storing its freight cars at a UP location all this time?
Rail service is a critical part of our business. On a daily basis we are loading on average 25 rail cars per day. The rail cars pass through downtown daily at between 7-10 AM and between 5-7 PM. When the rail cars are not in use, we store them at the Union Pacific location in the North Yard located near Cedar Lake.
Building our own rail yard was a strategic business decision to keep us competitive in the marketplace. After assessing the significant cost associated to parking our rail cars at another location and the efficiencies we could gain by storing them closer, we decided it was best to build a rail yard ourselves. In doing so, the City also benefits from less rail car traffic through the downtown area.
The new rail yard would put us in a position to operate more efficiently and cost effectively, which in turn allows for us to be more competitive in the market.
What modifications has Cargill included to mitigate disruption for residents near the proposed location? And, why, in Cargill’s view would this not be inconvenient for neighbors?
Our goal is, and continues to be, to design this rail yard project in a way that has the least impact as possible on the location and the area surrounding it, while providing a safe working environment for our employees stationed there. We want to work closely with city officials and those within the vicinity of the proposed location to achieve this.
First and foremost, the overall rail transportation system is being built with safety of the public and employees in mind. Trips between the plant and the rail yard would have a locomotive in the lead to maximize visibility while crossing road crossings. Communication between rail yard employees would be handled via two-way radios to reduce noise generated in the area.
The rail yard would be operated from 7AM-7PM seven days a week. This time restriction was included in the Development Agreement with the City. The yard would have stadium-style lights to allow us to safely operate the facility in the late afternoon during the winter. When work is done at the yard for the day, the lights would be turned off and the yard closed up for the night. Occasional transloads from rail cars to trucks are planned to occur. These transloads are via transfer hoses so that product is contained. Light rail car maintenance is planned to keep the cars safe and compliant for use. At this time no buildings would be built for rail car maintenance.
We plan on constructing a twelve-foot tall berm and noise barrier walls are proposed as a visual block and noise barrier.
If the proposed location could endure flooding, we would protect it from water encroaching under the rail tracks through existing storm water drainage culverts. The existing rail tracks protect the area to just above the 100-year flood level. Stopping water from backing up through the culverts would protect the area to the 100-year flood elevation.
What additional modifications can Cargill make?
We’ve taken the insight shared by the neighbors in the January 23 & 24 and November 5 meetings and made some modifications to the Stewart Road location plan. We have commissioned a number of studies and are waiting on results. We are in the process of gathering additional facts based upon the concerns and questions residents raised at the open house meetings. We are reassessing locations and looking at new locations. All this with the hopes of finding a solution that works for most everyone.