Monthly Archives: January 2014

Welcome to DC Safe Rail

DC Safe Rail wants to keep you informed. Explore these links to learn more about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project (VAT), about us, and the many community concerns and objections made by organizations and federal agencies related to CSX’s proposal to expand the VAT and transport dangerous materials through a historic Capitol Hill neighborhood, mere blocks from the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Understand how this project, in its current proposed state, will affect you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates and keep visiting these pages for the latest on meetings, information, and more.  Scroll down or click on links to the right to read the latest information about the VAT. You can also stay updated by signing up for our contact list. 

Don’t be railroaded. Learn more and speak out.


For more updates, check out our Google+ page here: Google+

Washington Traffic Jam
Ariel view

Rail Safety is Headlining National News!

Follow us for the latest updates on the VAT Tunnel and rail safety issues via twitter  or Facebook at

Here’s a quick recap of some leading headlines this month on rail safety, hazmat dangers, and new guidelines intended to protect citizens and cities from disaster: 

1/14/14 Wall Street Journal “Cities Grapple with Oil-Train Safety”

1/23/14 WSJ “Safety Board Calls for Tougher Standards for Shipping Crude Oil by Rail; NTSB Asks for Expanded Rail Routes to Avoid Populated Areas”

1/23/14 Washington Post “NTSB Wants Stronger Scrutiny of Dangerous Rail Cargo”

1/24/14 Think Progress “‘Risky’ Crude Oil Trains Should Stay Away From Cities, Federal Investigators Say”

1/24/14 NPR “String of Oil Train Crashes Prompts Push for Safety Rules”

1/25/14 New York Times “Accidents Surge as Oil Industry Takes the Train”

1/27/14 Diane Rehm Show: “Dangers of Shipping Crude Oil by Rail and Call for New Safety Rules”

1/25/14 EPA & Norton @ 2 PM on VAT Project

What’s Happening? Congresswoman Norton invites the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discuss the environmental impacts the EPA raised re: CSX’s proposed expansion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel

Why this Meeting? The EPA raised a pretty significant list of concerns about the plans proposed for CSX’s proposed Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion (see them via: In November 2013, Norton committed to ensuring the EPA was part of the conversation with DC residents. The Saturday, Jan. 25th meeting will focus on the environmental impacts and human health risks DC residents face (especially vulnerable populations like children and seniors). The discussion will cover issues from ground, water, and air contaminants (i.e. lead, asbestos) to hazardous material risks, including CSX’s transport of Bakken crude oil through the city. ***On January 16th, at a community meeting with Mayor Vincent Gray, a CSX executive confirmed that CSX transports Bakken crude oil through the District.***

Who Will Be There? Norton’s office will host the meeting with the DC Residents, EPA, DDOT, FHWA, and CSX

When? Saturday, Jan. 25th @ 2 pm

Where? 200 I St. SE (corner of I (eye) and 2nd Streets SE). Please give yourself some time to move through security and bring a photo ID please.

Please join the conversation and help to move it forward. For more background on the proposed VAT project, visit the VAT expansion project page.

Follow the conversation on Twitter: @DCSafeRail


Read about the meeting on Dr. Gridlock at the Washington Post:


1/16/14 Meeting with Mayor Gray on the VAT

Mark Your Calendar! Important Meeting  Mayor Vincent Gray will meet with Navy Yard and Capitol Hill communities on Jan. 16th to discuss CSX’s proposed expansion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel.

The community requested and Mayor Gray agreed to a public meeting on Thursday, January 16th at 6:30pm.  Save the date and please plan to attend.
Childcare, food and refreshments will be provided. Click Here for the Event Flyer PDF

WHO:  Meeting with Mayor Vincent Gray
WHAT:  CSX’s proposed expansion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel
WHEN:  Thursday, January 16th at 6:30pm WHERE: 200 I Street SE (Department of General Services building) Ground Floor Multipurpose Room (please ensure you have a photo ID)
WHY: Enjoy some refreshments while ensuring DC Government responsibly oversees this proposed CSX project and safeguards our communities’ health, safety, and security
The meeting agenda will include the following ongoing concerns from the community (among others):

  • Hazardous material transport and risk of derailment similar to Willard, Ohio and Casselton, North Dakota
  • Presence of 8,000 sq ft of asbestos
  • More than five-fold increase in permanent structural vibration to area buildings
  • Potential for stalled neighborhood development during projected 4-6 year construction timeframe
  • Disruptive traffic congestion and closure of area streets and highway ramps
The District government is a key player in determining whether this project proceeds, and if so, under what conditions.  Therefore, this meeting with Mayor Gray is crucial in the overall decision making process and oversight responsibilities.
The final agency decision could be made at any moment, so this could be your last opportunity to be heard.  Please make sure you are able to attend, and bring your friends and neighbors.
PARENTS:  Little ones are welcome! Space will be available for children to play within the meeting space and we will have games and activities to keep them entertained. Hired sitters will help keep watch and entertain the children while you hear from the Mayor and share your own thoughts on this proposed project.
CSX has proposed to expand and shift the Virginia Avenue Tunnel beyond its current right of way and vastly increase the amount of freight (including hazardous materials, such as crude oil) shipped through the city.  This proposal will negatively impact passenger and commuter rail operations in the DC metro area for generations to come and poses a direct threat to the health and safety of those who live and work nearby.
CSX’s proposed plans for expanding the tunnel magnify the risk of a derailment like what happened right before Thanksgiving in Willard, Ohio and around the New Year in Casselton, North Dakota.  During construction, which is expected to last approximately 4-6 years, CSX would be running larger and more frequent trains at increased speeds in an uncovered and open trench literally through an active construction site.  CSX has not denied that its proposal increases the risk of such a derailment, which would be particularly catastrophic if it resulted in an oil explosion and/or release of toxic chemicals.
In addition to ignoring the risk of derailment, CSX’s proposal has not properly addressed how it would mitigate increased air pollution (including diesel fumes and the presence of 8,000 sq ft of asbestos), traffic and parking for area commuters, noise pollution, and structural vibrations (among other negative impacts).
See VAT project for more information.