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July 21, 2014

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SURFACE & DOMESTIC TRANSPORTATION TRUCKING | RAIL | INTERMODAL | AIR & EXPEDITED | DISTRIBUTION 46 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE JULY 21.2014 CSX TRANSPORTATION'S PLAN to rebuild and expand a tunnel to accommodate double-stack container trains in south - west Washington, D.C., is coming under increasing fire from residents. Although the location might be unique — it's less than five miles from the U.S. Capitol — there are signs that local pushback against freight projects is increasing. High-profile rail accidents involving exploding oil ship- ments are driving some of the clashes, but so is the growth of intermodal rail, as terminals tend to be near population centers. These "not in my backyard" efforts can threaten intermodal operations, resulting in railroads not able to achieve efficiencies or shippers experiencing supply disrup- tions because of truck bans on routes to terminals. Plenty is at stake for both sides in the fight over the rebuilding and expansion of the Virginia Avenue tunnel. The $200 million project would give CSX better economies of scale by allowing the railroad to double-stack containers and reduce congestion through double-tracking in the tunnel. The 110-year- old, 4,000-foot tunnel needs to be replaced, CSX argues. The project is key to the railroad's effort to complete the second phase of an ambi- tious initiative to improve connections between mid-Atlantic ports and the Mid- west. The tunnel's rebuilding and expansion is one of 15 projects CSX aims to complete by the end of 2015, bringing an end to its roughly $850 million public-private part- nerships, known as the National Gateway. "The trains are coming whether or not we build a new tunnel," said Louis Renjel, vice president of strategic infra - structure initiatives. "Raising the roof and double-tracking actually improves fluidity and reduces congestion." But nearby residents aren't convinced. They fear the shipment of hazardous chemi- cals, such as Bakken crude oil, and accuse CSX and government agencies of trying to ram the project through. The recently released final environmental impact statement doesn't fully address safety, environmental and secu- rity concerns, and federal officials have been reluctant to fill in the gaps, said Denise Krepp, a resident and former chief counsel for the U.S. Maritime Administration. "The federal government has limited information-sharing to those with a need to know. Neighbors, unfortunately, do not fit in this category," Krepp said. "They may be living next to railroad tracks, but only state and local officials and first responders can receive information from railroad carriers." Only a handful of oil loads were hauled through the tunnel last year, CSX said, and they were shipped on individual oil cars, not on unit trains. The railroad said it has no plans to ship more oil through the neigh- borhood, which is undergoing a separate revitalization. As a common carrier, the railroad can be called to ship hazardous chemicals through the tunnel, but it noted there is no market for oil shipments via that line. When oil loads are shipped, it could be for a variety of rea- sons, including inclement weather, CSX said. But the railroad can't give local residents a guarantee that it won't ship oil through the tunnel, nor can it promise it won't ship more crude and other hazardous chemicals. CSX is "quite proud of the quantity and quality of community engagement we have had," Renjel said, pointing to 150 meetings with the community and eight public hearings. Those discussions led to CSX changing its plans to build the first one-track tunnel before work on the second tunnel so the trains wouldn't run through an open trench, he said. CSX is offering to pay for a variety of beautification efforts, including new side- walks and a bike path, and limit construction hours. CSX also will offer $75,000 toward property devaluation to residents that sell their homes during the 30- to 42-month con- struction period. That's not enough for many residents, however. There needs to be a public binding agreement that CSX won't route hazard- ous chemicals through the tunnel, said Maureen Cohen Harrington, a Virginia Ave- nue resident and member of the Navy Yard Neighborhood Association board. "There is a tremendous learning curve involved, relat- ing to right-of-way, environmental policy and other issues," she said. CSX "counts on getting away with it before people catch on." Opponents were successful in lobby- ing the U.S. Department of Transportation to extend its review of the project from 30 days to 60 days a nd add a not her community meeting to hear residents' con- cerns. Following the review of the final environmental impact statement, the Fed- eral Highway Safety Administration is expected to weigh in on whether the proj- ect proceeds. The local uproar over the tunnel might be more sophisticated than other fights against freight projects, considering many Virginia Avenue tunnel residents appear to be politically skilled, if not connected. But the clamor over the tunnel is hardly unique. The Village of Elwood, Illinois, in late May passed an ordinance blocking trucks from using a route to access a major intermodal complex outside of Chicago. U.S. Northern District of Illinois Judge Gary Feinerman on June 16 issued a temporary restraining order against the ordinance after developer CenterPoint Properties, Union Pacific Railroad and APL Logistics sought an injunction on the ban. A trial concerning the repealed ban isn't expected until fall 2015. A shortcut for trucks to reach the UP RAISING THE ROOF ON FREIGHT Residents' fight against a CSX tunnel through the nation's capital is just part of a broader pushback on freight By Mark Szakonyi

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