Few Turnout to Comment on CSX Tunnel Environmental Impact Statement
by Larry Janezich
ANC6b held a sparsely attended special call meeting last night to sign off on its response to city and federal officials on the Environmental Impact Statement on the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Reconstruction. The meeting was held in the spacious People’s Community Church on Barracks Row, with a few hundred seat capacity. Nevertheless, whether it was the early evening thunderstorm, a sense of resignation, or because something came up, only five residents showed up for the meeting.
Indeed, though the meeting was scheduled at 7:00pm, it was 7:40pm before Commissioner Chander Jayraman showed up to provide the necessary 6-member quorum which allowed the meeting to convene and conduct business.
Once the meeting started, the ANC began considering the draft proposal which had been largely written by Commissioner Phil Peisch. The letter expressed general support for “Alternative 3 – Two New Tunnels” but listed significant concerns which the ANC wanted to see addressed. These included repaving/reconstruction of Virginia Avenue north of the freeway; establishment of a complaint resolution process and a community advisory group; assurances of completion in 30-42 months; and more information on potential utility disruptions.
Commissioner Brian Pate expressed his unhappiness that an alternate train route during the construction process had not been given more consideration, and then offered language to request additional information regarding several issues related to the transport of hazardous materials through the tunnels.
Denise Krepp offered commentary from the audience with suggestions on how to improve Pate’s proposed amendment, which Pate incorporated into his amendment.
The final version of that amendment was agreed to, 5 – 1, with Commissioners Flahaven, Jayaraman, Pate, Peisch, and Garrison voting for it and Commissioner Oldenburg opposed.
Audience member Jerry Sroufe, Co-chair of Eastern Market Community Association, expressed his appreciation for the letter and the inclusion of the concerns regarding transport of hazardous materials.
Earlier, Peisch offered an amendment to address the handling of $500,000 in mitigation funds offered by CSX to residents of ANC6B and ANC6D who are affected by the construction. Peisch’s language clarified that ANC6B could not legally fill this role and urged that CSX find another agency to do it. That amendment passed 5 – 1, with Commissioners Flahaven, Jayaraman, Pate, Peisch, and Garrison voting for it and Commissioner Oldenburg opposed.
The final letter as amended by the Pate and Peisch Amendments passed 6 – 0.
Commissioner Oldenburg characterized the comments as an opportunity for the community to put final remarks in the record, but said that in reality, they would have little impact unless they could point to substantive errors.
The FEIS and a fact sheet are available at www.virginiaavenuetunnel.com