In the News

City Rail Storing Empty Coal Hopper Cars
By Catherine Stortz Ripley 
February 2, 2016

CAPTION: A line of more than 100 rail cars extends toward the end of the city-owned shortline railroad south and east of Chillicothe. The cars are empty coal hopper units being stored for an Iowa energy company. The cars have been in place for about a month. The contract is with Muscatine Power and Light and is for one year, although it could be extended for additional years, depending upon the coal market.


C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

Approximately 115 railroad cars are being stored at the south end of Chillicothe's shortline railroad tracks a couple miles south of U.S. Highway 36. The cars are empty coal hopper units being stored for an Iowa energy company and have been in place for about a month, according to Brett Anderson, general manager of the Missouri-North Central region of Motive Rail, the company that manages the Chillicothe-owned shortline railroad. Motive Rail has a one-year contract with Muscatine Power and Light, of Iowa, to use part of the line for storage. This section of the rail line was not being used and Motive Rail had made it available for storage and a possible revenue source. "Back when the city sold the line off, Motive Rail wanted to make sure they kept part of the line for this reason and possible expansion of future business in the area," Anderson said. The city of Chillicothe recoups a portion of revenues collected from the rail car storage, similar to revenues received when Motive Rail conducts other activity involving the city-owned rail line. Although the contract with Muscatine Power and Light is for one year, it could be extended for additional years, depending upon the coal market, Anderson said. The coal industry is getting hit pretty hard by regulations and has been slowing down. "There will be quite a few coal cars sitting around," Anderson said. Anderson said that it is a good source of revenue for a portion of line that is not be used. He said the rail line has space to store a couple more trains, if needed. Last fall, repairs were made to a portion of the rail line in this area where a culvert had washed out. The city paid for the materials and Motive Rail made the repairs.

City Railroad Slated for Improvements
Published: Friday, March 27, 2009, C-T

The city of Chillicothe anticipates increasing its railroad budget for the upcoming year with a total of $83,429 proposed to be spent, compared to last year's budget of $25,279. On tap for the new fiscal year which begins April 1, will be the replacement of some railroad ties for the north end of the line and the purchase of a skid steer loader to help with maintenance of the line south of Chillicothe.

Motive Rail, which is the city's contracted railroad operator, has requested the purchase of 300 railroad ties and other railroad material amounting to $18,450. The material will be used for the north end of the city-owned railroad which connects to the Canadian Pacific line (operated by the IC&E) and feeds into the industrial park.

Also in the proposed budget is $40,000 to be used for the purchase of a skid steer loader to help with maintenance and drainage-related issues for part of the line that extends south of Chillicothe. The maintenance is necessary to keep the line under control for possible future industrial needs, according to Hugh Musselman who presented the budget to City Council members during a budget workshop Monday night at City Hall.

City Buys Back Railroad Right-of-Way
By CATHERINE STORTZ RIPLEY/C-T News Editor
Tuesday, January 29, 2008

CAPTION: The Chillicothe-Brunswick Shortline Railroad, starting at this point and looking east, hasn't been used in many years and was approved two weeks ago by the federal Surface Transportation Board as being eligible for railbanking. The city sold 29 miles of the railroad right-of-way for nearly $1 million to Montoff Transportation in 2006 and on Monday city council members voted 3-2 to purchase the land back from Montoff for $10. They also gave the mayor authority to sign all documents to rail bank the right-of-way. With the railbank designation, no permanent structures may be erected on the right-of-way, but the land could possibly be developed into a trail project open to the public sometime in the future. Montoff Transportation is in the process of salvaging the rails and ties along the stretch of railroad which extends to a point near Brunswick. 
C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

The city of Chillicothe will spend $10 to buy back the 29 miles of railroad right-of-way which it sold in 2006 for nearly $1 million. Council members voted 3-2 Monday night to purchase the right-of-way which runs from just south of Chillicothe to a point near Brunswick. They also authorized the mayor to sign documents railbanking the right-of-way so that, in the future, it could be turned into a rails-to-trails project for public recreational use.

Supporters of the effort said benefits of owning the property include having control of the land and the authority to decide on its future use. Others expressed concerns over liability issues and costs associated with developing and maintaining the property as well as an immediate expense to make the right-of-way safe. After discussions, council members Darrel Rinehart Jr., Earle Teegarden Jr., and Pam Jarding approved the purchase, outweighing "no" votes by council members Lonnie Sewell and Donna Preszler.

Montoff Transportation, which purchased the portion of railroad right-of-way for $976,000, is in the process of removing the rails and rail ties, according to City Administrator Dean Brookshier. As part of the 2006 agreement with the city, Montoff applied to the federal Surface Transportation Board to have the land railbanked, which essentially allows for the land to be used for a purpose other than a railroad. The federal board approved that application two weeks ago.

In workshop discussions, City Attorney Robert Cowherd said liability would not be an issue for several reasons, including application of the Missouri recreational land act which states that if land is owned by a public entity and opened for public use the property owner usually is not liable. He also stated that if the city developed a trail on the land it could be considered part of the city's park system and would, therefore, be covered by the city's insurance policy.

Tom Ashbrook, president of the city-appointed Railroad Advisory Board, spoke to council members during their workshop meeting prior to the regular council meeting and said that it was the board's recommendation for the city to purchase the right-of-way. "This is a good opportunity for us," he said. "Now is the time to do it." He also stated that the city could recoup between $12,000 and $15,000 on fees paid by any utility which crosses the right of way.

Representatives from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which manages the Katy Trail State Park, visited with city officials earlier and had said that it cost between $20,000 and $25,000 per mile to develop the Katy Trail and about $5,000 per mile for annual maintenance. Cowherd said that grants could be available for developing the right-of-way into a public trail and that one of the larger property owners along the railroad's right-of-way would support the project and could help develop the trail. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal," Cowherd said. "If we don't exercise it (purchasing the right-of-way), the property will be abandoned."

The right-of-way is a path 100 feet wide and 29 miles long. Cowherd also added that if the city wanted to develop a recreational path it could do small portions at a time. According to the 2006 purchase agreement with the city, Montoff Transportation could remove the bridges on the right-of-way at no cost. Ashbrook, however, said that DNR recommended that the bridges be left because of the expense. Although the bridge decks are in poor condition for rail traffic, they could handle lighter traffic, Cowherd said.

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