CSX Listens to the Community

Community Open House Held

CSX Listens to the Community

By Ana Mulero

CSX Corporation held an open house at a Marriott hotel in southeast DC yesterday afternoon to go over the details of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction project with residents of the nearby community and receive their feedback.

The goal is to build two new tunnels running side by side so that freights can move in either direction without interfering with each other, which might take about three-and-a-half years to complete.

The existing tunnel is over 110 years old and too small to accommodate both freights. Part of the plan is to make it taller rather than wider to keep from interfering with residences. The DC Department of Transportation, however, has allowed CSX to take over the roads in this area for the project.

Previously there was almost like a justificatory thing, why this project needs to go ahead,” said John Short, a resident and public policy professor at the University of Maryland, about CSX.

But now, after seven public meetings, though there has yet to be any mitigation about the air pollution that would follow this construction, CSX is listening to residents’ requests to make some improvements to the area like building a new dog park and widening sidewalks, Short thinks.

CSX representatives stood beside cardboard presentations, which displayed graphics, pictures, maps and bullet points of information, greeting people as they came into to the Admiral ballroom of the hotel.

Rob Doolittle, communications and media relations director of CSX, says the Virginia Avenue Tunnel needs to be replaced “to meet the growing demands of the American economy.” The National Environmental Policy Act review determined that, out of the 11 alternatives considered, this project would have the least impact on the environment.

Doolittle recognized that residents of the Virginia Avenue community are worried about the pollution, noise and vibrations that will result from the renovation of this structure. A number of these residents organized as DC Safe Rail, supported by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, have joined The Committee of One Hundred in going to court to secure an injunction against the project. This is the first step in a legal campaign questioning the N.E.P.A. approval of the tunnel.

People do have concerns, no question about it. And that’s why we’re here today.” Doolittle said. “This meeting today is intended to give residents the opportunity to come and ask questions about the railroad.”

At least 20 residents from the Virginia Avenue community attended the event to gather more information about the process of the construction plan.

Project manager at CSX, Brandon Knapp, said, “We’ve got professional engineers who will come in and do an inspection of someone’s home; make a photographic record of the structural condition of the house before the construction starts.”

This way, if a resident thinks that there’s damage that might have been caused by the construction they will have a fact-based reference.

By visiting the project website, residents can also receive updates about pending activity and what impact it may have.

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