The state court of appeals has upheld an order to Wisconsin Central Ltd. railroad to allow soil testing on its property as part of plans to install an overpass in North Fond du Lac.
The issue arose after an agreement between the railroad and the state for an overpass to be installed over tracks where they intersect with Lakeshore Drive. The street was often blocked by trains for more than five hours per day, according to court records.
As the state proceeded with design work, it wanted soil samples from land owned by the railroad. But Wisconsin Central objected, arguing its Fourth Amendment rights were being violated. A circuit judge ruled in favor of the state, so the railroad appealed.
In its ruling Wednesday , the appeals court said the railroad had agreed to the overpass project and, therefore, agreed to the soil sampling necessary to complete it.
"We conclude that no issue of unreasonable search or seizure is raised by the DOT conducting soil sampling and laboratory testing of soil in the area of WCL's property that is located in the overpass project construction corridor. WCL consented to this limited sampling, a necessary component of the design phase of the overpass project, expressly described in the study that led WCL and the village to agree upon Alternative B, an agreement that was expressly approved by the OCR in its resolution of the public safety and traffic concerns at the crossing. When it was the voluntary agreement of WCL and the village to move forward with the overpass project that led the DOT to require the samples, WCL cannot now complain that this limited sampling, necessary to complete the design phase of the project, violates its property or constitutional rights," the court wrote.
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