ANC6D –which will be directly affected by the VAT construction–has issued a resolution that DDOT refrain from issuing a record of decision in light of disconcerting questions that have arisen about the approval process. They state that the FEIS “ raised at least as many questions as it answered” and asked for the DC Council to obtain answers related to the following:
- how the VAT project fits into the Council’s comprehensive rail plan
- if DDOT wrongfully preapproved CSX’s preferred proposal
- if DDOT has the authority to grant CSX additional right of way needed for their preferred alternative
- whether the city should condition right of way on CSX entering into a binding agreement forbidding the transportation of hazardous materials through the tunnel
- how the city’s first responders are prepared to respond to a disaster int eh tunnel
- how the project will affect economic development and if it will dissuade new investment
- how vulnerable populations like low income families and the elderly will be given alternative options for housing if construction threatens their health.
- how they will replace tree cover and compensate for environmental damage that will result
- and more! Read it–it is a great summary.
A copy of the letter in PDF form may be read here: Resolution to DDOT CSX ROD.
Excerpts include the following:
There is a final public meeting on the VAT project hosted by CSX on July 31st at the Capitol Skyline Hotel from 6:30pm-8:00pm. The stated purpose of this meeting is as follows: “The meeting will include a presentation responsive to input from citizens at the public meeting held on July 1, 2014 with a question and answer period focused on the July 1 input.”
The standing room only crowd on July 1 expressed plenty of concerns. These included long-asked questions for which we have yet to receive answers, and reactions to new information in the FEIS, such as DDOT pre-approvals dating to at least 2010, and the “temporary inconvenience” compensation of $16.44 per day to select households for part of the period of construction.
CSX, DDOT, and FHWA had few answers and offered only vague reassurances.The July 1 Public Meeting transcript is available here.
Please join us to see if today’s presentation includes new information (some bombshells, perhaps?), or is more of the same old, same old.
DC Council to host a Joint Public Oversight Hearing Meeting regarding the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
12:00 p.m., Council Chamber, John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
The announcement of the hearing and more details may be found by clicking here.
The D.C. Council will hold an August 26 hearing about the proposed CSX expansion. This is the only hearing on the Council’s schedule before it returns from recess in September. This rare move was prompted by considerable procedural and substantive concerns about the project. You may sign up to testify until August 22. But please don’t wait; the witness list may fill before then.
Council calendar available here.
DCSafeRail’s press release thanking the council for this hearing may be found here. SafeRailHEARINGPreRel 7-23-14
Was the rejection of a “no build” option and the outcome of the VAT FEIS predetermined? With the evidence strongly suggesting this is the case, DC Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Phil Mendelson sent a letter on July 24th, 2014 to Michael Brown of the District Department of Transportation asking for an explanation.
DDOT granted a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to CSX in 2010, and “this language of the 2010 agreement suggests that the outcome fo the FEIS issued in 2014 was predetermined. While the FEIS purports to consider a variety of alternatives, including a “no build option,” a promise to provide permits as early as 2010 suggests that the “no build” option was never seriously considered.”
DDOT is asked to explain if they ever gave full consideration to all proposed alternatives.
Cheh and Mendelson requested “that DDOT delay the issuance of any permits for this project until September 15th, 2014 in order for the Council to continue oversight on this issue.”
The Committee of the Whole as well as the Committee on Transportation and the Environment are holding a hearing on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project on August 26th, 2014. where DDOT will be asked to provide answers about their actions regarding the VAT project.
Please find a full text PDF of Councilmember Cheh and Mendelson’s letter here: 7 24 14 Letter to DDOT re CSX VAT Project (2)-1
For Release: July 31st, 2014
Contact: Natalie Skidmore, 202.657.1911, Twitter @DCSafeRail, Facebook.com/DCSafeRail
Councilmembers Commended for Requesting CSX Tunnel Expansion Delay Pending Oversight
DCSafeRail, the grassroots organization against the current, unsafe plan by CSX to expand its rail tunnel in Southeast, commended Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh for their letter to DDOT Acting Director Mathew Brown requesting that DDOT postpone issuing any approvals or permits or providing the Record of Decision for the proposal until September 15, 2014. This will allow the Council to hold a hearing on August 26 and consider DDOT’s answers and the public testimony on the CSX proposal.
The Mendelson/Cheh letter asks DDOT to explain the strong implication that the “‘no build’ option was never seriously considered” in the recently completed FEIS when DDOT promised to “expedite approvals” four years earlier. The letter also states that it is “imperative” that the Council be able to provide a public forum in which DDOT can provide long-awaited answers prior to final agency action.
“We want to thank Chairman Mendelson and Councilmember Cheh for this appeal to DDOT and for the opportunity to present our case at the August 26 hearing,” said Helen Douglas of DCSafeRail. “The pre-approvals by DDOT are just one of the many questions that the Council needs to explore at the hearing and in the comprehensive rail study that it is undertaking. In fact, the final decisions on the CSX Tunnel should come after the study is completed and all parties have had an opportunity to consider its conclusions.”
DCSR is a coalition of citizens, organizations, and elected officials asking for accountability and oversight in ensuring the community’s health, safety, and security in the Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion project.
DCSafeRail called upon the DC Mayor on July 2nd to uphold his promise to protect and safeguard DC residents. With the recent release of CSX’s final plans to build two tunnels with freight operations continuing throughout the period of construction, the time is now for Mayor Gray to speak up and act. DC deserves better than what is happening, Mayor Gray. We need transparency and we need solutions. See the DCSafeRail letter here: DCSafeRail Letter to Mayor Gray (2 July 2014).