BNSF wants safety language in agreements


FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison City Council will have to vote once again on a finalized version of the sublease agreement with the railroad to move forward with it’s decades-long depot relocation.

City Manager David Varley is recommending that the City Council approve the newly requested addition to the agreements that were approved in November.

An agreement will be in front of the council at Tuesday’s regular meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The sublease agreements exist between the city, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, and Amtrak to move the depot from its current location at 1601 20th Street.

The city has, for more than 10 years now, been talking to and negotiating with the three entities to put the depot back in the historic depot down in the Riverfront.

After signing the agreements between all three entities in November, BNSF requested that language be added that required any employee or contractor of the city working in the area pass a web-based safety orientation program within one year of entering the premises. The city would also have to renew the orientations annually.

Varley said in his recommendation to the council that the fee for taking the online orientation course is $20 per person and the city would be footing the bill.

“This is understandable as it relates to construction workers building the passenger platform. However, it also means that anybody who goes on the platform to do maintenance such as remove snow, replace a light bulb, sweep, etc., is required to take this “Safety Orientation” annually and have a card testifying to such on their person.”

In order to take the course, employees and contractors would have to set up an account including uploading their photo.

He said the city must sign the updated agreement for Amtrak to sign the three agreements.

The city, along with the Iowa Department of Transportation and Amtrak, are all contributing to the cost of the $1.2 million platform, but ownership would revert back to Burlington Northern Santa Fe. They would lease the property to Amtrak, which then leases it back to the city for $1 per year. The city would be contributing $360,000, Amtrak would kick in $150,000 and the difference is paid for with state grants. The city is working to get grants to offset city taxpayers’ portion of the cost.

In other action, the council will

– consider a first reading amending Chapter 3 of the city’s Health and Sanitation code to reflect the new city trash cart program.

– consider various appointments to boards and commissions.

-accept completion of the 27th Street and Avenue L intersection improvements at a cost of $523,963.20.

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