NEW RICHMOND -- New Richmond and Town of Richmond lost another round in the struggle with Canadian National Railway and its plans for an intermodal station.
On Wednesday, July 1, Administrative Law Judge David Albino denied a motion brought jointly by the city and township to strike the April 28, 2020, traffic impact analysis submitted by Wisconsin Central Ltd as an exhibit in their petition before the Office of the Commissioner of Railroads to relocate 105th Street (apps.psc.wi.gov/vs2015/ERF_search9164&CASE=RX&SEQ=914).
It is the latest setback in a prolonged legal battle between the two municipalities and WCL, a CN subsidiary, over an autoport/intermodal transit facility. CN is attempting to build in the township just outside the city limits.
The motion also asked the judge to stay all proceedings in the ongoing case until a corrected TIA can be produced by WCL.
The judge appears to have denied the motion based on a procedural matter.
“The municipalities devoted considerable time to challenging the TIA but raised no objections to it prior to, or during the hearing. Failure of a party to object on the record to admission of any evidence shall be deemed a waiver of that objection. Wis. Stat. § RR 1.06(3) (1996)," he wrote.
The judge also ruled against staying the proceedings going forward.
A lengthy portion of a June 9 hearing before Albino was dedicated to a debate over the facts underlying the existing TIA and subsequent validity of the analysis’ conclusions.
The cornerstone of WCL’s argument, based primarily on the April 28 TIA, is that heavy truck traffic will only be arriving from and proceeding to the west of its proposed facility via State Highway 64 thereby avoiding routes that would take truck traffic through or around New Richmond and multiple other routes through the township.
The city and town both dispute that conclusion, arguing the existing TIA was too limited in scope and never accounted for the intermodal capacity introduced after the TIA for only the autoport was completed..
At stake is who should bear the financial burden for reconstructing and maintaining those roads and, depending on which routes truly are affected by the increased truck traffic, how to best relocate 105th Street to service the railroad facility without negatively impacting local traffic and emergency services access all while still protecting public safety.
The deadline for parties to submit briefs on the question of the OCR’s jurisdiction to relocate 105th Street closed on June 30. How long before the law judge rules on that question is anyone’s guess.