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U.S. Transportation Secretary Meets With La Crosse Residents To Discuss Rail Safety

Foxx And Rep. Ron Kind, Also Address Infrastructural Issues

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, left, and Rep. Ron Kind hearing residents' concerns at the Wednesday meeting. Photo: Maureen McCollum/WPR News.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx met with La Crosse area residents on Wednesday to hear about rail and other transportation issues in the region.

A room filled with train conductors, federal rail officials, local lawmakers and community activists voiced their concerns to Foxx about rail traffic in the region, which has been increasing thanks to oil shipments from North Dakota and elsewhere that run through Wisconsin. Some people talked about safety and response issues, while rail workers talked about being stretched thin.

Foxx said he’ll take the stories back to Washington, D.C., where proposed rail safety rules are in the works.

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“It’s a good news story, in a way, that we have this energy comeback happening in our country. But it’s also one that comes with a concomitant responsibility to ensure that we’re increasing safety as well. We’re aware that we need to step up our game as a country and we’re putting the tools in place to do that,” said Foxx.

Foxx was joined by U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse. The two also met with residents in West Salem to discuss roads and bridges.

Last month, Obama signed a $10.8 billion stop-gap funding measure, which keeps the Highway Trust Fund and transportation projects financed through spring. Obama and Foxx are also pushing for a four year, $302 billion transportation bill (https://www.dot.gov/grow-america). Kind said the bill is stalled because Congress can’t agree on how to fund it.

“We’ve got rail bridges, we’ve got highways, we’ve got roads, we’ve got airports that need to be rebuilt in the 21st century and it’s not getting done. That falls on Congress,” said Kind.

Kind and Foxx say it would take public pressure to get Congress to pass the bill.

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