CSX announced that they would seek federal funds through TIGER grants to complete the VAT project in 2008. They failed to be granted federal dollars for this project, and in 2011, CSX announced that they would fund the project themselves. Because the National Environmental Policy Act of (NEPA) and Section 106 assessment initiated due to the project’s scope, CSX had to work through a public process to finalize project designs and their impact to the environment.
The NEPA process began in late 2011 with an Environmental Assessment under the lead of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and in cooperation with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). However, this project is so complex with massive construction and freight trains moving through open trenches mere feet from family homes, a popular children’s playground, affordable housing units, senior housing, historic and government buildings, and a U.S. highway. The agencies realized that an Environmental Assessment would not be sufficient and moved forward with an Environmental Impact Statement.
In July 2013, FHWA, DDOT, and CSX released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that became the subject of active criticism. The official comment period for the DEIS closed on September 25, 2013. The community now awaits a Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision, which could happen in the coming days or weeks.
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