CSX Tunnel Expansion Moves Forward
Federal Agency Clears Project Over Nearby Residents’ Objections
by Larry Janezich
Tuesday, the Federal Highway Administration cleared CSX to begin applying for permits for expansion of the Virginia Avenue tunnel and gave CSX authority over the streets near the tunnel for the life of the project. The project is likely to take 3.5 – 4 years and cost $170 million.
The move came after sustained public opposition from nearby residents who will suffer the negative consequences of the construction which is within a stone’s throw of their homes.
Despite concerns raised by some city council members on behalf of the residents and a hint that the council might take action to delay the project pending the results of a study, it seems unlikely that the council will intervene.
Last July, in a sparsely attended Special Call meeting, ANC6B 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.
CSX has offered $500,000 in mitigation funs to residents of ANC6B and ANC6D affected by the construction and ANC6B recommended that CSX seek a mechanism for distribution of those funds which will not involve the ANC which cannot legally fill that role.
The ANC passed the endorsement for the project by a vote on 6 – 0.
See the CHC post on that meeting here: http://bit.ly/1oNi1xE
The FEIS and a fact sheet are available at www.virginiaavenuetunnel.com