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June 14, 2011


BNSF rebuttal sheds light on arena situation

by Deena Winter

Haymarket arena construction

Construction workers near the site of a diesel spill that's being removed from the area where a new arena will be built west of the Haymarket.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has been largely silent during the past several years, as Lincoln has embarked on its plan to convert its
dusty downtown railyard into a $340 million arena and shops.

But now, BN has spoken up.

Don’t know if you saw it, but BN spokesman Andy Williams wrote a letter to the paper trying to set the record straight on what is going on with that extra $3.4 million BN wants from the city in order to get relocated as fast as the city wants it to. BN has been taking a beating in the blogosphere for requesting an extra $3.4 million to move out of the city’s way.

Williams laid out all the delays that have occurred — saying the city was eight months behind schedule in executing agreements and acquiring property for excavated material, six months behind schedule in providing environmental reports to BN and buying the Union Pacific property and two months behind schedule in awarding sanitary sewer work. Williams says “these are just some of the examples of delays” that prevented BN from beginning construction in June 2010. He says construction did not actually begin until March 2011. Which is funny, because all along the taxpayers have been assured that everything is on time, and on budget. Doesn’t sound to me like this train is on time at all, my friends.

“That is much later than the dates even specified in the agreements, yet the completion date of September 2012 has not changed,” he wrote.

Again, I think the city ought to explain to taxpayers — you know, those people footing the bill for this project — what has caused the delays. I’ve asked city officials, and they won’t say. I’ve asked Williams, and he won’t say either. But his letter seems to imply that the city is behind the curve, not BN.

Williams did assure me that BN has a good relationship with the city, despite this little delay problem.

“I would characterize our relationship as very good,” he told me.

Let’s hope between the two of them, they can bring this train in on time.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. paul mike grieger
    Jun 14 2011

    this is a lancaster district court case that said the railroad and the city are suing each other.
    I did not know that friends treat each other that way…foolish me.

    Ci-11-1656 go read it for your self…

    • porcuepine
      Jun 15 2011


  2. Jun 14 2011

    I’ve been to Lincoln many times- like the city and the people.

    But I THINK a new Wikipedia entry for the word ‘boondoggle’ may soon show a photo of Downtown Lincoln if the good citizens there don’t start holding their politicians accountable more than they do/should.

    The so-called ‘free press’ in Lincoln also should be doing a better job of exposing this stuff- instead of being blinded (corporate) civic cheerleaders.

  3. Jane H Kinsey
    Jun 14 2011

    Watchdogs of Lincoln Government will bring up this issue, if allowed, at the next meeting June 24 at 3:30PM.
    The meeting leaders don’t allow any discussion unless the item is on the agenda.

  4. T4acres
    Jun 14 2011

    From my experience, the person who says “I don’t think it is helpful to point fingers” is the one on the receiving end of the finger pointing.

    This Letter to the Editor is dated Saturday, June 13, 2011 at 11:57 P.M. I haven’t looked back into the print version of the last few days of the paper (seems almost archaic) but I sure missed it the first time through – if it’s in there. The fact that there are no comments posted to the online version (as of Tuesday afternoon) is almost unbelievable.

    • Jun 14 2011

      I always found people seemed to pay LESS attention to the Sunday paper; even though it is considered the marquee paper of each week. Just shows how newspapers aren’t always in sync with reality.


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