Rerouting CSX must consider rerouting their freight trains during the period of construction. See Councilmember Tommy Wells’ letter to the Federal Highway Administration and DC Department of Transportation urging the agency’s to give serious consideration to rerouting at least during the period of construction. 2013_10_21_Virginia Avenue Tunnel Reconstruction Project(pdf)
Safety Subject to increased emissions, noise, pollution, dust, and asbestos, Capitol Hill and Navy Yard visitors and residents will face daily safety concerns through the period of construction and afterward as well. Read about resident concerns here.
- Thinkprogress.org article, December 2013
- Hill Rag article, “Tunnel of Controversy,” December 2013
Security Hazardous materials are shipped through Washington DC regularly. The expansion of the VAT will increase these shipments. Running double-stacked trains through an active construction zone is already dangerous. Adding in a potential open trench that will only have 8-foot fences around it for safety seriously heightens DC dangers. Has CSX or DC made contingency plans in case of a derailment or disaster?
Air Quality Airborne contaminants from moving freight and construction in and around a 100-year old tunnel through the heart of an urban, growing, and family-oriented community increases environmental impacts. Often, emissions are mitigated by trees and foliage. However, CSX plans to level hundreds of trees in the area. See the serious questions the EPA raises about this project here.
Noise & Vibration Problems The current NEPA documents and studies do not address compacted concerns for how noise and vibration issues from heavier and longer trains will increase for those who live along the construction zone (Limits of Disturbance=LOD). This could be disastrous for older historic homes within the LOD. Read criticisms of the DEIS from the Capitol Hill Preservation Society here. CSX also misrepresents the impact that vibration will have on nearby homes and historic structures, computing impact with single trains instead of the double-stacked trains they intend to run through. See their flawed report (with comments) here.
Read technical critiques outlining problems with their Vibration Assessment and Noise Assessments here. (PDF)
Accessibility Directly in the path of the construction zone and a proposed new second tunnel exists a senior citizen center, government buildings and family residences. All are concerned that cutting off access to driveways, streets, and the front or back of homes will seriously impede emergency vehicles (ambulance, fire, police) to access living and working spaces. See the Limits of Disturbance map from the DEIS at CSX’s VAT Project. Please note that this does not include truck traffic or other traffic issues.
Transparency For more than four years, Washington DC residents have asked to know more about the current right of way of CSX under Virginia Avenue and how much city land or private land the city will give to CSX for this project. The Right of Way of CSX’s Virginia Avenue Tunnel was legislatively given by Congress in 1901. We are not getting clear answers from DDOT regarding which agencies are required to grant this new ROW and how CSX proposes to recompense the District and its citizens for this land grant.