IDL approves second rail bridge

Project requires additional permits to move forward

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

The Idaho Department of Lands has approved BNSF’s proposal for a second rail bridge, clearing one step in the path to full approval.

It’s a win for the BNSF project designed to expand train traffic capacity in Sandpoint, but the rail bridge still has more government permits to obtain before it’s cleared for construction. The approval was announced by IDL officials Friday following IDL Acting Director David Groeschl final order to approve the project the previous day.

The final order follows a public hearing held by IDL in Sandpoint on May 23. That meeting resulted in a preliminary order by the hearing officer to approve the second rail bridge. The approval clears BNSF under the terms of the Idaho Lake Protection Act, which “regulates encroachments and activities on, in or above the navigable lakes in Idaho, including Lake Pend Oreille.”

The second rail bridge is pitched by BNSF officials as a means to reduce train congestion by expanding the company’s options to route trains. If approved by all permitting agencies, it will be built adjacent to and west of the existing rail bridge across Lake Pend Oreille and Sand Creek.

The proposal has attracted vocal supporters and opponents alike. Supporters credit BNSF Railway with putting freight shipments on rails that would otherwise be trucked on the highways. They argue that since market demands determine the overall volume of shipments, the second bridge is necessary to avoid insufferable delays at rail crossings. Opponents, on the other hand, worry that the second bridge is opening the door for more rail-related inconveniences. Conservation groups also point to train derailments spilling hazardous materials as a catastrophe made more likely in Sandpoint by a second bridge.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

Support The Reader

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.