The VAT project gains national attention in a front page Thinkprogress.org article, which details the security risks inherent in the VAT, community opposition, and the challenges citizens face who want hazmats rerouted and community safety prioritized. You can read the article here: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/05/3010941/secret-chemicals-rail/
“But that risk [of derailment] 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. In its current state, the more than 100-year old tunnel has a dirt floor and a single track. CSX’s proposal would add a second track for two-way traffic, a concrete floor, and added height capacity for double-stacked trains. For the approximate six years it would take to rebuild, the company has proposed three different methods to run freight traffic in the meantime. All three options include digging out a temporary trench next to the tunnel reconstruction where the large diesel-fueled trains would run through the city…”