Digest: Legislators decry new Caltrain funding proposal

News Wire Digest for July 20: Wisconsin seeks input on rail bypass; NS train derails in Alabama
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Monday morning rail news:

Change to ballot initiative could cut Caltrain funding, may be illegal, legislators say
A proposed change to a ballot initiative meant to generate tax support for Caltrain could mean the San Francisco Bay commuter railroad receives little or no revenue from the tax, according to a group of legislators. The San Francisco Chronicle reports officials in San Francisco and Santa Clara have said, as a condition of their support for the ballot measure, the funds from the proposed one-eighth-cent tax would go to transit agencies in each count, which could pass as much or as little along to Caltrain as they wish. In a statement issued Sunday, U.S. Reps. Jackie Speer (D-San Mateo) and Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), along with three state legislators and two local officials, says that would violate the law: “The statute requires that if the ballot measure passes, the money goes to Caltrain.” Some San Francisco supervisors — who are unhappy about San Mateo County’s control of the board governing Caltrain — previously refused to support the ballot measure, which would block it from going to voters [see “Digest: Caltrain could face shutdown …,” July 15, 2020], but another San Francisco supervisor will try to change that this week [see “Digest: San Francisco supervisor will try to revive Caltrain ballot measure,” July 17, 2020]. Caltrain has contended it could have to shut down without the funds from the tax.

Wisconsin DOT seeks comment on freight bypass project
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on the Muskego Yard Freight Rail Bypass Project, one of several route improvements needed to allow for increased operations of Amtrak’s Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha trains. The project will create a double-track mainline through Canadian Pacific’s Muskego Yard in Milwaukee, diverting freight traffic that currently passes through the Milwaukee Intermodal Station used by the Hiawatha. Visit the WisDOT site for more information; comments will be accepted until Aug. 7.

Vegetable oil spills in NS derailment
A load of vegetable oil was spilled when 17 cars of a Norfolk Southern derailed Saturday in Coaling, Ala., near Tuscaloosa. WVTM-TV reports the accident occurred about 5 p.m.; Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue and the railroad’s Hazardous Material Team, along with clean-up contractors, responded. No injuries were reported.


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