(I am, as they say, out of pocket, so I hope you will have patience with me for being in cut and pasting mode today.)
Here is the release sent out on Wednesday from the DCSafeRail
folks about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Final Environmental Impact Statement released last week
DC APPARENTLY PRE-APPROVES CSX TUNNEL BEFORE ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY CONCLUDES
(June 19, 2014) Washington, DC--According to documents in the Environmental Impact Statement for the CSX Tunnel at Virginia Avenue, SE, released last Friday, it appears that the District Department of Transportation has predetermined the EIS and apparently rubber-stamped CSX’s proposal for a partially open-trench construction project that will carry hazardous cargo less than a mile from the U.S. Capitol and through the heart of a growing residential/business community. It also appears to contradict Mayor Gray’s promise, made to over 400 people in January, that “…there is no way that we are going to allow people’s safety and security concerns to be compromised” by the CSX Tunnel.
In Appendix A (pg. 47) of the Final EIS appears to show that DDOT entered into a previously unknown agreement with CSX to grant occupancy permits to expand the tunnel’s right of way beyond its existing footprint. Additional agreements apparently indicate that upon conclusion of the project, CSX would be entitled to a permanent right-of-way to cover the expanded tunnel.
“We hope that the District Government has not thrown us under the freight train,” said Helen Douglas, a member of DCSafeRail, the coalition committed to the health, safety and security of the people in and around the CSX proposed expansion site. “We ask Mayor Gray to honor his commitment to us and withdraw any pre-EIS approval for these permits and conduct a true EIS with real alternatives to the CSX Tunnel fully analyzed.”
DCSafeRail will also ask the City Council, through Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmember Mary Cheh, chair of the Council’s transportation oversight committee, and our own Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells to hold hearings on the whole CSX Tunnel EIS.
The CSX Tunnel project will route freight trains with hazardous cargo, including occasional Bakken crude oil, through a partially open construction trench for almost four years. DDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) prepared the EIS.
“At best, this indicates that the District government is failing to uphold basic principles of good government, including transparency and accountability,” said Douglas.” At worst, it suggests that the environmental study is a farce because it rubber-stamps the CSX open-trench proposal.”
The Washington Post had a short piece on this response
, with DDOT's response to the response: "DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders said in an e-mail that the permit relative to Virginia Avenue SE and adjacent streets 'will have no force or effect until a build alternative is approved via Record of Decision.' Other requests for comment regarding the city’s commitment to the project have not been answered."