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Mayor Gray, Time to Act

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).

CSX Tunnel Update: DCSafeRail Responds to DDOT

For Release: June 20th, 2014

DCSafeRail issued the following statement regarding DDOT’s justification yesterday for the issuances of permits for the CSX Tunnel before the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is complete [Washington Post, 6/19/14: DDOT’s Early Commitment to CSX Tunnel Project in S.E. DC Irks Residents]: 

We appreciate the assurance from DDOT spokesperson Reggie Sanders that the DDOT permits ”will have no force or effect until a build alternative is approved via Record of Decision,” but this hardly corrects the weight of the documents in the EIS that are overwhelmingly in favor of the project, specifically including issuing the street occupancy two years ago and the promise by DDOT and the City Administrator (who oversees all executive agencies for the mayor)  to expedite other permits and approvals.

The EIS documents, prepared by CSX’s paid consultants, call into question DDOT’s objectivity and transparency, and raise the question why this agreement was not disclosed to the public until now, despite years of countless questions from the public and elected officials about DDOT’s permitting process and criteria. We want Mayor Gray to back-up his January commitment to not “allow people’s safety and security concerns to be compromised” by the CSX Tunnel with its track in a partially open trench carrying trains with hazardous materials.  We therefore ask Mayor Gray to countermand all efforts to “expedite” this project and assure everyone concerned that all approvals and permits will be given full review and consideration and that the EIS has not already been rubber-stamped.

See the Agreement here: DDOT-CSX Permit 2012.

Contact: Natalie Skidmore, 202.657.1911, Twitter @DCSafeRail,


DC Pre-Approves CSX Tunnel Plans Before Federal Environmental Study

For Release: 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.

Appendix A of the Final EIS (see attached) 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 DC City Council, through Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmember Mary Cheh, chair of the Council’s transportation oversight committee, and 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.”

Contact: Natalie Skidmore, 202.657.1911, Twitter @DCSafeRail,

4/30/14 – 9:30 A.M. DC Council Hearing on CSX VAT Project

On Wednesday, April 30th at 9:30 am in Room 412 at the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW), the DC Council Committee of the Whole will hold its first public hearing about the VAT project. See the details at:

Two DC Councilmembers came together on a resolution to ensure that DC took a good look at the proposed Virginia Avenue Tunnel project by CSX. Please join us on April 30th to testify or support the DC Council in taking on its responsibility to safeguard and protect the interests of DC residents and District business owners. For more about the proposed VAT Project, visit these pages.

To sign up to testify, please contact Ms. Jessica Jacobs ASAP at (202) 724-8196 or Provide your name, address, telephone number, and organizational affiliation (if any) by close of business on Monday, April 28th (you may request to testify as a panel with up to three people.) Written testimony can also be submitted to the record until May 14th at 5pm.

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: