Friday Question of the Day – Despite Neighborhood Concerns, Do You Think CSX Will be Allowed to Transport Hazardous Materials through Navy Yard/Capitol Hill?

Yesterday The Inside Story Of The Plan To Send Hazardous Materials Straight Through The Heart Of D.C. was published:

“In the nation’s capital, commuter rails run underground and freight trains rarely stop so the risk of a serious hazmat incident due to a derailment is relatively low.

But that risk would significantly increase under a proposal by CSX which is currently being considered by the U.S. and D.C. Departments of Transportation. If approved, the company would dig a massive trench, and uncovered freight trains would carry crude oil and other hazardous materials in the open, less than 50 feet from the homes of families, children, and seniors and less than one mile from the U.S. Capitol building. A residential tree-lined block would be bowled over, dug out, fenced in, and would stay that way for at least five years.

The proposed open trench is part of a larger effort by CSX to reconstruct the Virginia Avenue Tunnel (VAT), an underground freight rail that extends from 2nd to 11th street in the historic Capitol Hill and Navy Yard neighborhoods of southeast D.C.”

You can read the full story here.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office writes:

“Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today wrote Representative Tom Petri (R-WI), Chairman or the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, requesting a subcommittee hearing on the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project. Norton said that while the tunnel affects her constituents, federal issues also are involved because the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead federal agency in the project. In her letter, Norton said, ”Although the project is an important component of the nation’s effort to add and update space for freight infrastructure, I do not believe there have been any oversight hearings.” Citing a meeting she held in the Capitol Quarter community in November, the Norton letter pointed to some of the outstanding issues involved in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) such as noise, air quality, and construction near homes and senior housing.

Norton’s community meeting heard presentations from CSX, FWHA, the D.C Department of Transportation, and questions and remarks from community residents. Norton said that at the meeting she and the community learned some information for the first time, but it became clear that many issues need federal oversight, including a proposed open trench during construction close to homes and senior housing, trains carrying hazardous material, rerouting during construction, and the experience of other districts where CSX has done similar work.”

Do you guys think CSX will be allowed to do this or do you think the neighborhood will be able to rally enough support to stop it?

66 Comment

  • That article’s a bit one-sided… are there any benefits to having the trains run through the area? We know who is opposed but who is supporting these efforts?

    • There are zero benefits to DC of this project. DC is simply a through way, and that is all.

      Well, I guess I shouldn’t say zero benefits – CSX has attempted to buy off certain citizens groups and churches with “donations”.

    • There will be more hazmat transported through the city via this line and it will be more likely to derail due to the nature of the temporary tracks. No other major population center has been subjected to such a project.

      • Well, this simply isn’t true.

        Freight rail has never had a project that carried “hazardous” materials through a population center. Ok then…

  • Regarding your question, isn’t that what CSX currently does? I thought the opposition was mostly to the construction, with some seeking to stop continued (or expanded) use of the line for transporting hazmat.

    • +1 I’ve never read anything suggesting that the trains are currently hazmat-free. I’m under the impression that the NIMBYs are making a big deal about the proposed temporary non-undergroundness of the tracks, claiming that it would make any hazmat more hazardous.

      • It’s the wrong question. The question should be, should any freight rail company be allowed to transport highly explosive hazmats through the heart of the US capital? Just because something happens now doesn’t mean it should be allowed to continue.

        • +1.
          And I get the feeling that neighborhood residents are thinking that prohibiting the hazmats completely is probably a lost cause, but are thinking that they have a shot at stopping the open-trench thing.

  • I think one of Biden’s kids is the lobbyist for all the freight line developments in the past couple years.

    Is Homeland security involved? Personally – I think the risk is too high for a toxic spill. it seems counterintuitive to have hazardous materials being transported that close to CH.

    And why are they citing commuter rail as an example? Freakin Metro cars derail all the time!

  • That article is horribly one-sided and ignores the fact that CSx currently carries similar freight materials in and around DC. Nimbyism

  • First of all, this article ignores the main motivation for this project, which is to increase clearance to allow double-stack container trains to move between Baltimore and the south. There is no other way to do this, NS has a freight line that goes from Front Royal through Hagerstown to Harrisburg, but it is full and can’t handle anymore trains. Without this expansion, there will just be more and more tractor trailers on i-95 (and the eastern beltway). Maybe some people are okay with that, I don’t know.

    Hazmat trains run on these tracks already, there might be a slight increase in volume, but it’s not like there’s nothing now and there will be nuclear waste running all the time if trench is built. Oh yeah, you have to click on the full article to see that the trench is temporary while the tunnel is being rebuilt – the tunnel will return.

    Many people say, “Oh, just divert the Hazmat trains around DC, they shouldn’t run this close to the Capitol anyway”. Fine. There are three proposals to build new tracks to divert not only Hazmats, but the majority of all freight traffic away from DC. I’m sure finding the 3-6 Billion Dollars to build the bypass will be easy. And don;t forget the legal fees from fighting to tear down homes and businesses to build the new tracks. So lets say 10-12 billion. It should only take about 20-25 years. And no, there is nowhere else for them to go now. As I said, the NS line through Hagerstown is full, and anyway, NS and CSX are competitors.

    So, not doing this means thousands more trucks on all highways between Baltimore and Richmond daily. And if hazmats are banned on the rails, then there will be hundreds more hazmat trucks on our highways. Again, maybe people are fine with that. I’m not.

    • I’m actually much more concerned about hazardous chemicals than nuclear waste. How often have chemical spills killed many people in a town after a spill? How about nuclear?

      • That was a joke that I probably shouldn’t have made. Very little nuclear waste is transported by rail because very little nuclear waste is transported anywhere. It’s stored at the power plants. I was just mimicking the hyperbole of the opponents. As far as deaths from hazmat accidents, I can’t find concrete statistics right away, but I believe it’s about one person per year. Obviously, there are sometimes bad accidents, like 9 dead in SC in 2005, but then there are years with none. In most hazmat accidents, the civilian population is able to be evacuated, and the injuries and/or fatalities are to the train crews and first responders.

    • The question is whether these materials should be allowed to rub through the heart of the capital, period. That they do so now is irrelevant. Also, the DEIS is so horribly flawed and deficient that is actually does not comply with legal requirements.

      Claiming “NIMBYism” on this is lazy and completely ignores the legitimate health, safety and national security concerns of running trains with hazmats through an active construction site mere feet from homes, a major highway and within close proximity to critical government installations. There are safer ways to do this project, including re-routing durning construction, that have been arbitrarily excluded from consideration.

      • No, the question is whether or not a private company should be allowed to upgrade it’s own infrastructure. The hazmat question is a red herring.
        Where did I “claim NIMBYism” Where exactly?
        And again, there can be NO REROUTING DURING CONSTRUCTION. The products will just go on trucks parallel to the existing route if they can’t use the rails. I don’ think you even read my post. Maybe you didn’t mean this to be a reply.

        • Didn’t mean the reply to be exclusively to you. Apologies for the confusion.

          There absolutely can be re-routing during the project through interlining agreements. Doing so would dramatically shorten construction timelines, but CSX has chosen not to entertain that option.

          On the private company issue – CSX does NOT own or have an easement right to the full footprint they’re seeking to use for the expanded tunnel, so they do not have an automatic right to do this.

          • Interlining? On what line? As I said the only other north-south line in the area is the NS line from Front Royal-Hagerstown-Harrisburg, and it is single track and is at capacity. Oh, sure, they could send freight from Richmond out to WVa and Ohio and then run it back east to Baltimore, Philadelphia and NJ, but that is so cost-ineffective that is just won’t happen. The whole national freight network is stretched to capacity right now. After years of abandoning lines, they are now reactivating and upgrading, but they can’t do it fast enough.

    • You can’t have it both ways and say it must be done to handle increased freight and then say there won’t be an increase in hazardous materials. Besides, CSX admitted this is not a material choke point – there are 11 other more serious choke points that has not lifted a finger to address. Also, you should use facts and not made up figures – no rerouting options have been explored in detail so no one knows how much it will cost (including you unless you work for CSX?). And NS and CSX enter into temporary trackage rights agreements millions of times per year.

      Besides, those who are advocating for rerouting are asking for at least rerouting during construction to avoid trains running within the same envelope of a complex construction zone. This increases the risk of derailment. And these trains carry hazardous material. It is simply too risky. Many people aren’t opposed to the idea of construction – they just don’t want their lives put at risk with a dangerous proposal that has cut corners all along the way.

      You can call that “nimbyism” if you want, but why shouldn’t people speak up if the safety of their families is threatened with a proposal that Del. Norton admits has received no oversight? And this is not an abstract concern – CSX has the worst safety record in the country, with more than 220 accidents last year alone. Not to mention a fire on a train in the Virginia Avenue Tunnel just a couple weeks ago. They don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt here and there certainly needs to be oversight and safer proposals offered.

      • Holy Florking Shnit!
        I very clearly said that there may be a slight increase in volume. Where are your reading comprehension skills? No, I don’t work for CSX, I run a restaurant, but way to assume I have something to gain personally by this project. I just believe that trains are more efficient, and safer than trucks, because guess what? THEY ARE!
        How many times do I have to say that there can be no rerouting? THERE IS NO OTHER ROUTE! There would just be many more trucks on 95 every day for the duration of the project.
        One more time: I DIDN”T CALL IT NIMBYISM!
        I have to stop looking at this thread or my head is going to explode. Seriously though, thanks for not being “Anonymous”.

      • Ok, I lied, one more thing (because I forgot to address the “made up figures” and “no options have been explored in detail”).
        In 2007 the NCPC (National Capital Planning Commission) performed a study of rail bypasses of DC. They looked at three different options, a tunnel at Alexandria (guess how much of a chance that has), a bridge south of Indian Head, and a bridge roughly paralleling the 301/Nice bridge.
        They estimated 4.7 to 5.3 Billion for the Alexandria tunnel (2007 dollars, remember), Indian Head 3.2 to 4.3, and 301/Dalghren as 3.5 to 4.7.
        It’s true, those are not “in detail”, but they are estimates by one of the more respected entities in the area.
        If anyone can find the hundreds of millions for a detailed study of these options, great. I’m not holding my breath.

        • Care to show us where in the NCPC study that it says that it would take 20-25 years and cost $10-$12 Billion?? Those are made up numbers.

          Re: reading comprehension, you’re still talking out of both sides of your mouth. On the one hand, doing the tunnel has negligible effect on hazardous material, but not doing the tunnel results in increase of “hundreds” of hazmat carrying trucks.

          Let’s put your reading comprehension to the test. My post talked about TEMPORARY re-routing over EXISTING tracks during construction. I’ll say it again for your benefit – temporary re-routing over existing tracks. That has NOT been properly explored because there are is a small, short route between Alexandria and Hagerstown that CSX could use to divert rail traffic during construction. It would give CSX an incentive to finish this thing faster, so it could get down in a year or two, and not risk the residents who live next to the project.

          Since you seem to take so much pleasure in the plight of others, I figured you worked for CSX because there is no other explanation why you would care so deeply about your neighbors being put in danger. Remind me not to dine at your restaurant (oh wait, you didn’t say which one it was).

          • Okay fine, they’re made up numbers. But this project would not start construction tomorrow. Given the speed at which mega projects advance, 20-25 years is a reasonable educated guess. Yeah I did pull 10-12 billion out of…a hat. But I doubt it’s far off.
            I never said “not doing the tunnel” results in more hazmat trucks. I said banning the use of the tunnel or open trench by hazmat trains would result in those hazmat cargoes travelling by truck, and yes, one train equals hundreds of trucks.
            “TEMPORARY re-routing over EXISTING tracks during construction. I’ll say it again for your benefit – temporary re-routing over existing tracks. That has NOT been properly explored because there are is a small, short route between Alexandria and Hagerstown that CSX could use to divert rail traffic during construction”
            I have said this many times – THERE IS NO ROOM ON THAT ROUTE. It is single track and at capacity. And, oh yeah, CSX doesn’t own it! NS does! Oh, they might find room for one, maybe two CSX trains a day, but they wouldn’t have priority. You seem to think that CSX can just run trains anywhere at anytime. Like if my restaurant decided to remodel, and we went into the kitchen of the Chinese place next door and said “Hey, we’re having some work done, so we’re gonna take the place over for lunch for the next few years. Don’t worry, we’ll give you a couple of hundred bucks a day”. It doesn’t work that way.
            As for the rest of your comment, eff you too.

          • Thanks for admitting that you’re making up information. You’re also making up information when you say the NS line is at capacity. Your trucks comment also literally makes no sense – we’re talking about units of cargo. If the tunnel is expanded, then there would be an enormous increase in the amount of hazardous material RAILCARS transported through DC. Banning hazmats altogether does not mean they are put on trucks because CSX re-routes so-called “high hazmats” already. If they can do it for high-hazmats, then they can do it for the rest of the hazmats and crude oil.

            Finally your “restaurant” (which I’m starting to wonder whether it really exists) analogy makes no sense either. The STB can require (and regularly does) temporary trackage rights, and CSX would not be paying NS “a few bucks” either. Is CSX wants to
            increase its profit exponentially, then it should pay for it. Not our problem.

            (I love how when you ran out of arguments, you just resorted to cursing. Well done!)

    • Thank you for this information (I’m the very first commenter). I thought there was more to the story. I live and work in the Capitol Hill/ Navy Yard area and am trying to get my arms around the issue to figure out where I stand on it.

    • The three proposals you cite ALL include an open tunnel right next to construction, NONE of them re-route around DC. There is NO reroute option. And if a legitimate re-route option were proposed, the it wouldn’t mean “thousands more hazmat trucks.” It would mean hazmats being transported on a rail line, but NOT through a residential neighborhood.

      • This comment is nonsense, but I’ll try to respond (BTW, Check out my comment at 9:13)
        “The three proposals you cite ALL include an open tunnel right next to construction”
        WHAT? This is gibberish.
        “NONE of them re-route around DC”
        If you knew what you were talking about, you would know that the 2007 NCPC study that I am referring to includes two proposals that reroute FAR around DC. To be clear, these are rail rerouting proposals that include major new construction including a new Potomac crossing, which is the real choke point, for freight rail, commuter rail, and Metrorail for that matter.
        ” There is NO reroute option”
        Again, WHAT? For a second I thought you were agreeing with me that there is no way to reroute rail traffic using existing rail lines, but given the rest of the comment, I doubt it.
        ” if a legitimate re-route option were proposed, the it wouldn’t mean “thousands more hazmat trucks.” It would mean hazmats being transported on a rail line, but NOT through a residential neighborhood”
        You didn’t read my comments very closely. If NEW rerouted rail lines were built (at a huge cost), yes it would mean that hazmat, and most other freight, could go on a rail line that would not pass through DC, but no matter where, it would go through SOME residential neighborhood. Neighborhoods and industries grew up around rail lines, there’s nowhere around here that a rail line wouldn’t be near SOME houses. And I didn’t say that building a new rail route would mean thousands more trucks (not hazmat, I said HUNDREDS of hazmat trucks, another reading comprehension fail), in fact a new rail bypass would reduce the number of trucks in the area. I said that rerouting trains in the existing conditions is impossible, so banning hazmat, or all freight trains as some apparently want to do, would mean that those cargoes would just shift to truck, which would mean thousands more trucks on the road every day. Maybe you’re okay with that.
        In any case, I am all for a new rail bypass around DC. I agree that DC presents special circumstances that don’t exist in other areas. Plus removing freight traffic frees up space for MARC, VRE and AMTRAK. But a bypass will take many years and many billions of dollars. Are you all going to fight for it? Meanwhile, as long as we have no major breakthroughs in our industrial economy, there are going to be hazmat loads traveling across the country, whether by rail or truck. Rail is more efficient and safer. Yes Virgina Ave., it is safer.

        • Ok, I’m talking about alternative proposals in the DEIS – the actual proposal by CSX. None of those have a reroute option or even mention that they thought about rerouting. If the company legitimately cared about the people its project was going to affect, it would have mentioned that a reroute was not possible and given reasons why. Instead they dodge and refuse to answer simply questions about the legitimacy of a reroute plan.

  • It is insane that in this day and age – with so many rail lines around the city – that CSX would seek to widen a line that runs through the city in close proximity to 100,000-200,000 people and so much critical national infrastructure. Not BTW to bring anything to the city – but just to be able to move through the city quicker. It’s absolutely crazy.

  • Do I think CSX Will be Allowed to Transport Hazardous Materials through Navy Yard/Capitol Hill? – Yes.

    The only stop would be if Congress (not just Delegate Holmes-Norton) objects. Should there be a bit more federal attention – definitely (and there doesn’t seem to have been as much as i would have thought that could be the phase that the project as in). The neighbors should rightly be considered/consulted with regards to the physical limitations construction would bring to the general area, but otherwise their voice is not important.

    Some of this language makes it seem like a train with cargo running though DC and close to the Hill and residence is something new. There already is a tunnel there that is already transporting all sorts of cargo- this project is about making it bigger in order to transport more. Then there is a the fact that some of this transport already occurs close to residences and buildings as it moves into DC – just look at the map – which I guess just isn’t that important.

    The language used in the text – “If approved, the company would dig a massive trench, and uncovered freight trains would carry crude oil and other hazardous materials in the open” – makes it seem that this tunnel would somehow be open permanently or at least it would be somehow more visible. Which is not I believe the case. They they go on about how this would be the way things are for 5 years which is inconvenient for everyone but is a long way from forever and not exactly the end of the world.

    I live on the Hill and am not directly affected but I have my doubts – about what is coming from both sides. I know that those people in those new townhouses that overlook 395 and the seniors facility have real concerns but some of the talk from those opposing it just makes me sigh with exhaustion. Between them – those opposing the Hine site redevelopment, those going off on the Capitol power plant, what to do with the land near RFK, and a few other small projects – I just sometimes wish for silence.

    • I would hardly call 5 years “temporary”, especially when CSX is ignoring options that would substantially shorten construction timelines.

      • Lots of us have been dealing with construction projects lasting 5 years or more. It’s annoying but just part of living Ina growing city.

        • Big difference between living next to construction that results in a good outcome (i.e., Whole Foods, Ballpark, office space, senior center) and construction that brings no benefit to the city or neighborhood. After this project is done, they plan to restore the street to its original conditions (except that they can’t replace the full canopy trees, so it’ll be worse than how it was when it started) and THAT IS IT. This is not a development project – this is a private company trying to make a blatant land grab of federal land that it currently doesn’t own to increase its bottom line for its own benefit on the backs of DC residents and taxpayers.

    • I also think comparing community activism regarding this tunnel project and the Hine school project is a bit of a silly comparison. One project carries real health and safety risks, the other concerns… aesthetics/personal preferences for development style and scale. Hardly the same.

  • The main issue is that CSX will dig up people’s front yards and VA Ave and run an open trench directly next to a construciton zone which exponentially increases the risk for an accident. By shutting down 6th St SE and 8th St SE access across VA Ave it will also impact traffic in the area (esp during baseball season) and since the project can last up to 6 yrs (with no required end time being stated) it will really be a hardship for the neighborhood. Not to mention the environment issues and quality of life issues that this will present. The neighborhood is not trying to stop the trains from running. They just don’t want them running through their yards in an open trench across the street from playgrounds. Would you want this in your front yard for up to 6+ yrs?

  • “… freight trains rarely stop so the risk of a serious hazmat incident due to a derailment is relatively low.”
    Like the one in New Jersey yesterday?
    Like the one in Willard, OH, before Thanksgiving?
    Like the one that leveled Lac-Mégantic, Canada?
    A little food for thought from a Think Progress story from yesterday: “Out of CSX’s 212 accidents reported in 2013, 99 were derailments. Sixty-four of the accidents included cars carrying hazardous materials, though only four involved the release of hazmats. But out of all railroad companies in America, CSX had the most incidents involving the release of hazardous materials, with most companies only chalking up two incidents this year. “

    • For all us data nerds out there, another way to lose sleep: The Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis has a searchable list of train info, including accidents…

    • Citing specific examples of serious hazmat incidents does not contradict the statement that the risk of such incidents is low. Besides, two of those incidents (I’m not familiar with the NJ one) occurred where the trains had stopped, which would actually be consistent with (not in contradiction to) the first statement you quoted.
      .
      As for the “food for thought.” Without reading the whole report, that paragraph doesn’t really suggest that I should be worried about rail hazmat incidents or CSX in particular.

      • 99 derailments, 64 of them involving cars carrying hazardous materials, in less than one year. Nah. Nothing to give cause for worry at all. At least for 2/3 of the year.

        • The numbers you cite don’t suggest the risk of a serious hazmat incident is very high, but that appears to be the point you’re trying to make. All I’m saying is you’re not supporting your own argument (even though it may be a good one.)

  • One of my quibbles with the otherwise terrific Think Progress article is that it minimizes the current risk posed by these trains and their hazmats. Not just in the Virginia Avenue Tunnel (though tunnels do pose special risks, as the 2001 Howard Street Tunnel derailment demonstrated). That’s why DC fought so hard for so long to have the worst of the hazmats — the toxic by inhalations, at least — rerouted around the monument core. In 2005, DC passed a statute to do that. CSX immediately filed suit to enjoin the statute. DC won at the lower court, but lost at the D.C. Circuit on federal preemption grounds. The case was eventually dismissed on June 30, 2010 — shortly before the NEPA process for the VAT began. Hmm. In 2007, DC advocated, with the National Capital Planning Commission, for realignment of freight rail (not just the hazmats). CSX was victorious there, too.

    So the city seems to be stuck with the hazmats and the freight trains, and what meaningless reassurance is offered by a loophole-ridden, toothless, secret agreement between CSX and the city. Why on earth, then, would the city agree to make this situation worse — for another 100 years or more? The increased freight, traveling at increased speeds (a minimum of 40 mph), and the new possibility of collisions along parts of the tracks from trains running in both directions at the same time. The situation during construction would be especially grave.

    I’ve studied the heck out of train derailments and other accidents. It’s amazing how little it takes to throw trains off track, and how often that occurs. Having trains carrying hazmats through an active construction zone — whether in an open trench or not — near heavy equipment, and only feet away from a freeway, on one side, and homes, on the other, is insane. Even CSX has never tried anything like this before. Add to that mix the possibility of terrorist attacks, or just attacks by a single crazed individual (as what happened recently elsewhere in the Navy Yard), and I’m shocked that this ever got past the drawing board, much less most of the way through NEPA review.

    This project has regional implications, as well as national ones. E.g., the implications for commuter and passenger rail, as the Committee of 100 on the Federal City has described. We need better solutions that look at the problems — not just CSX’s problems — comprehensively. We shouldn’t rush this this through, with a very sloppy NEPA review, no less, just to satisfy the timing and strategy of a multi-billion dollar corporation that wants nothing other than to maximize its profits. And, to be clear, CSX doesn’t have the right to do this. They have the right to ask permission.

  • Get a map of the proposed path through Capitol Hill. Now locate the homes of Members of Congress on that map. The proximity of those homes to the proposed construction will answer your question.

  • If there is a benefit to the District, then CSX has failed miserably at articulating it. You would think that would have been #1 on their to-do list with the community. Instead, they have focused on pushing their plans through quietly while focusing their efforts on lobbying, with the occasional “donation” (read hush money) to a neighborhood cookout or party.

  • NCPC has studied the hazmat issues ad naseum. I attended a lot of those meetings representing another govt agency. This was about 8 years ago. Hazmat has always been running on this line but there was a post sept 11 push on safety in the District. Bottom line-it would cost billions to reroute the material and furthermore, DC has not voting representation in congress to really push for this. VA and MD weren’t exactly rushing in to volunteer to take Hazmat through their voters districts. Furthermore moving freight is a multi billion dollar industry on the east coast and DC is the choke point. This current study isn’t about hazmat at all, thats been settled. The EIS is to look at alternatives for increasing the load through the City of all frienght. The best way to do this is “double stacking’. I have been in all the interagency meetings on this and have seen all the various alternatives. This is going to happen. Will the community sue first and tie this up for another 5 years? Yes. But they don’t have much legally to stand on in the long run.

    • Moreover, funding is scarce, and it will cost billions of dollars of what would inevitably have to come from federal coffers to re-route hazmat and/or other freight around the District. Those billions of dollars that could be used to replace the B&P passenger rail tunnel in Baltimore, do something about the freight Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore, the three big passenger rail bridges in Maryland that need replacing, the Gateway Project in Newark/NYC, and the Southeast High Speed Rail from DC to Charlotte. And, there are billions of dollars in moneys that are needed to repair highway infrastructure we already have and to build more where it is required. Not to mention the increase in the costs of goods and services throughout the east coast because there will be no double stack or repair of the second line in the VA Avenue tunnel. Pray tell, NIMBYS, in light of the above, how you are going to sell to Congress, and the American people, (much less PG County and Charles County residents ) that performing NO repairs on the VA Avenue tunnel and/or re-routing freight traffic, HAZMAT or no, around the District of Columbia all because a small group of District residents (Washington insiders) yelled and screamed is in the best interest of and fair to the rest of the American economy. You can’t…because it is a non-starter.

      • You might want to educate yourself on the project and arguments before commenting next time. CSX is funding this, not taxpayers. People are talking about re-routing trains during construction because of the dangers inherent in conducting rail operations in the same envelope as a complex construction project. It will be quicker, safer, and less intrusive that way. If they temporarily re-route, they can “fix” the tunnel within the existing right of way all they want. But they don’t have the right to expand the right of way, take taxpayer land, and make it more dangerous just because they chose the cheapest option to them. No – if CSX wants to make more money, then it should have some skin in the game.

        Again, I’d be really interested in these hateful commenters who disregard people’s legitimate concerns to tell the community who you are. That way we can direct your attention to the news, so you can learn from Nelson Mandela and be more empathetic to the plight of others.

        • Indeed, CSX is funding the project. However, there is no “temporary” re-rout, only a permanent one, which will inevitably require federal funding. Your scenario is a NIMBY fantasy. And, it is highly questionable whether an additional track or having a deeper tunnel is “expanding” the right of way or taking taxpayer land. Their right-of-way exists, and the legal arguments to the contrary in that article do not pass the smell test. Moreover, as a District resident, I am a member of the community, those of use who support the CSX project have every right to denounce the NIMBYs. Actually, since it it is the NATION’s capital, I think the people outside the District who will benefit from the tunnel, both on a regional and national basis, have a right to a say as well. Mandela is beside the point.

          • This is not true at all. They are taking DC land. In the meeting with the neighborhood, Norton and CSX they did discuss how it was DC land and that the city was in talks to give it away for free! Norton was furious when she heard this admitted.

  • Wow, lots of lobbyists and “public affairs” professionals swarming this thread.
    .
    I guess your Google News alerts all went off at the same time this morning?

  • After reading the comments and all the drama about this project, most of which seems to say the same thing, some glaring things tend to stand out.
    Having lived on the Hill for a long time, I remember when the area south of the Freeway was notorious for crime. There was no stadium, no nice parks, no highway, no fancy restaurants, nor very expensive homes.
    I also knew that there were rail tracks. Yes, rail tracks. Now there is a freeway, expensive homes, etc. and the very same tracks are still there.
    I must admit that I find it hard to believe that anyone who bought a home adjacent to a highway, did not know that rail tracks were there and what the purpose of those tracks were (and are). I would also suspect that people knew prior to the construction of these homes. Those rail tracks certainly weren’t part of metro, which opened in the 70’s, 80s, and some stations as late as around 2000.
    All that I have heard is nonstop whining and carrying on as if this project is being done merely to annoy you.
    We do need improved ways of moving materials and we need to get more trucks off the streets.
    The Capitol Riverfront area is one big construction zone and I’m sure all of those folks living around that area knew what they were buying into.
    These folks apparently want everyone to believe that no one will survive this.
    Guess what? You will.
    DO you ride Metro? Metro has had its share of issues and many lives have been lost over the last few years.
    Yet, I bet most still take the train.
    I have read about air quality etc. Isn’t that what the Study is for?
    Home prices seem to continually rise and demand to live in the area remains very strong.
    So, a word of advice: Please stop acting like the world is over. Please stop merely thinking of your own selfish interests. I suggest that you all work together, get through it and get on with your lives.
    The tone of these comments is just very unprofessional. There is diminishing return factor for everything and these folks have certainly passed that point.

    • No one is upset there is a train. People are upset about the absurd way that this plan is being put forth. An open trench for trains to run through?! What crazy person thought that up??? Adjacent to a construction zone where they are just asking for accidents? It’s insane. No one wants the train to stop running! Where are you reading this?

    • Amazing. The residents are merely asking for the project to be safe and done right. Their website is DC Safe Rail. It is not called DC Stop The Train.

      If you ever go in for surgery on a leg, wouldn’t you ask your doctor to make sure he does everything he can to make sure his work is done in the safest and least invasive way? That is not selfish — that is being smart.

      Residents asking for the project to be done right and in a safe manner is not selfish. Even the EPA has stated that the DEIS was inadequate and didn’t take into account the lives of the many children living around the area. The residents simply want to work with CSX to make it as safe as possible and yet CSX cannot even simply explain how fire and EMTs can access homes in the area when construction begins. Don’t you think you think that even that simple question could get a solid and detailed answer?

  • This freight rail line is an anachronism that city planners and commuter rail supporters have been trying to address for years. A major freight rail running through a high-density historic neighborhood four blocks from the US Capitol? Tunnel enlargement process concerns aside, that concept needs reevaluation. “NIMBY” is meaningless when your backyard is the Library of Congress and the legislative branch of the United States. We’re in a different ballgame.

    And “thinking of your own selfish interests”? Selfish interests like breathing? (Ask the seniors with emphysema who can’t get serious answers about emissions mitigation from CSX’s DEIS past “keep your windows closed”. I’m absolutely serious.). Selfish interests like wanting CSX and DC agencies to publicize emergency plans in case of derailment (which they apparently have not even developed)? Selfish interests like requiring CSX to report how they plan to mitigate environmental effects on children’s health (EPA faulted them from ignoring children in the DEIS) when kids in the neighborhood and 3 nearby elementary schools might be exposed to asbestos, rodent extermination chemicals, etc.? “Selfish interests” like those of the mothers of handicapped children who still don’t have a straight answer on how an ambulance would access their homes during construction? Some of us would call these normal concerns. Legitimate concerns. Not selfish.

    In short, many of us are having trouble believing that the potential risks of hauling freight in this precise location are worth cheaper TVs, fuel, and juice.

  • I definitely think the project will happen. CSX has lots of money and this improves their bottom line. So yeah, it’ll happen. What I wonder is whether the city will try to make them pay for the risks. What I mean is that this is not going to be good for an area that went from being largely economically meaningless to the city to one where there is a real financial stake. The city has ponied up a lot of cash to get the area going and businesses and residents have made serious investments which equal increases tax revenue , both current and projected. While I don’t think this project will kill all that, it could really hurt for a long while. And , unlike most other construction projects, the city gets no benefit (unlike Metro, infrastructure upgrades, or new development). CSX benefits, primarily, in their competition for dominance over other freight rail companies, not out passenger rail infrastructure. So, will the city try to use the approval/permitting/ROW leverage it has to try to minimize the impacts (cover trenches, heavy penalties for delayed timelines, etc)? The neighbor safety thing is no joke, but fancy town home owners aren’t the most sympathetic bunch. The seniors and young Marines might get a little more concern about the potential health effects of an open trench derailment of a hazmat, but maybe not.

  • I doubt very much any entity will let the senior citizens or anyone else choke to death. Let not create such unnecessary drama here. There is a site under construction just to the south of the highway where (I believe) the new supermarket will be built. I don’t see anyone complaining about air quality. Lets remember that a former trash place sat by the corner on K Street.
    There were unexploded devices found under the site where the new Harris Teeter is being built. Why isn’t anyone raising similar concerns for safety?
    People on here want to work with CSX? How do you propose to do that when all i read on here is that they are bribing Churches and citizens groups? Really? A Church? Which Church is being bribed? Groups?
    I have been to concerts at yard Park on a Friday. Love the walk down to the river. The park is operated by the Local BID. Are they being bribed since those concerts are sponsored? Hot dog parties? What does that even mean?
    it’s no secret that people who live on VA Avenue want their homes purchased. If so, Isn’t that simply a form of compensation?
    I find it hard to believe (as do many) that the goal for the residents is to work WITH CSX when all they have done is either try to stop this, throw bribery charges around (very serious charges BTW) or accuse them of poisoning the air etc.
    I’m sorry, but if the goal is to take the money and run, then these people really don’t care about the community, senior citizens, air quality nor anything else because they will be gone.
    The drama and inconsistency is just about as unprofessional as it gets.
    Oh, in addition, I didn’t hear such rumblings when a group wanted to put up some entertainment venue on the Concrete plant by Potomac Ave (Nationals Park). I know that part of town and read the articles.
    I guess it’s ok have kids run around on contaminated ground as long as its “not in my backyard”….

    • Nothing you say can be backed up. VA Ave residents don’t want to sell their houses. They want to avoid having their kids fall into open trenches!

    • How is comparing the building of a baseball park with no residential housing within a four block radius comparable to a tunnel being built on the same block as residents. Everything you said or think on this issue is totally discredited by that absurd comparison.

      Cano is no longer a Yankee so the Redskins should win the Super Bowl. See the absurdity.

  • I’m sorry but I don’t have to back up what I said because others are saying it, not me.
    I also don’t believe any kids will fall into a trench nor am I throwing accusations of bribery around.
    Again, way too much drama.

  • With all due respect, did you notice the brand new residential building Directly across the Street from Florida Rock? How about Foundry Lofts just to the East?
    Kinda kills that 4 block radius doesn’t it?
    I’m also disturbed that some on here are accusing some of being bribed. The question about the church, groups and BID was not answered.
    I also notice that if u disagree with some comments, you are insulted . Let’s grow up a bit and act like adults.
    I must admit, the drama is a bit much.
    Let’s stop all the panic.

    • None if those buildings were there during construction of Nats Stadium. Fact check please before posting. Homes are currently along Virginia avenue.

  • I’m not sure you can read. Read the post and comment again.
    Your nasty comment is probably part of the issue.
    Here is one for you.
    If your home is on Virginia Ave, then you must have known about those pesky tracks with trains. Perhaps you missed it like you missed the buildings in question that were there prior to the entertainment venue on the contaminated ground.
    This will be an annoying project, i get that, but every time you come back with some insulting comment, it just makes it harder for people to feel bad for you. After all, you made the purchase.

    • Yep, I was right. Four block radius none of those projects existed during Nats construction. I didn’t make a purchase in Navy Yard nor do I try get people to feel sorry for others. Just stated the facts. In no way does this VAT project support the surrounding community. To be so adamantly for the project you must be getting a check from CSX. It’s cool they have deep pockets and there have been rumblings of residents being “bought”

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