Did you consider locations other than the Stewart Road location?
When looking for a location, we explored multiple 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.
One location did not meet Union Pacific railroad property access guidelines.
Two locations had more favorable attributes to support this project. Given the outcome of the August 27 City Council meeting, the location for the proposed rail yard is the Stewart Road property, currently owned by the City of Cedar Rapids.
Why can’t you build on the vacant, Cargill-owned property next to the facility?
The vacant, Cargill-owned property next to the facility does not provide enough space to accommodate a rail yard that would hold the number of rail cars we currently store. For what we know is available for purchase today to expand beyond our vacant property, the layout, size, underground utilities, and topography would still not accommodate our needs for this rail yard operation.
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. When the rail cars are not in use, we store them at the Union Pacific location in the North Yard located near Cedar Lake. These rail cars currently pass through downtown on a daily basis.
Building our own rail yard was a strategic business decision to keep us competitive in the marketplace, which helps ensure that Cargill can continue to be a vibrant part of the Cedar Rapids community. After assessing the significant cost associated with 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 and a vibrant part of the community.
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 with the safety of the public and employees in mind. We also want to design it in a way that has the least impact as possible on the location and the area surrounding it. We have worked — and will continue to work — closely with City officials and those within the vicinity of the proposed location to achieve this.
The planned design and operation include/take into consideration the following:
We plan on constructing a ten-foot tall berm with noise barrier walls and planting groves of trees to help reduce noise in a visually aesthetic manner.
Communication between rail yard employees would be handled via two-way radios to reduce noise generated in the area.
Trips between the plant and the rail yard would have a locomotive in the lead to maximize visibility while crossing road crossings.
Lights, when needed, would only be used between 7AM-7PM, which was agreed upon with the City. This would allow us to safely operate the facility in the late afternoon during the winter.
We have no plans to build a maintenance facility, but will be conducting light maintenance work to ensure the cars are safe/compliant.
What if neighbors are unhappy about the location that is selected?
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 have worked — and will continue to work — closely with those within the vicinity of the proposed location and the City to achieve this.
Will you be buying any additional property other than those for the actual rail yard?
We will assess the purchase of additional, adjacent properties if needed for building the rail yard and/or accommodating non-operational, office-like activities that support the rail yard.
Are you concerned about what the rail yard will do to the value of the properties adjacent to the proposed location?
An independent third-party appraiser performed an assessment and determined that the rail yard will have minimal effect on the property values of adjacent properties.