Coast Guard issues ‘Finding of No Significant Impact’ for proposed second rail bridge

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

The United States Coast Guard has completed a Final Environmental Assessment (FEA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) regarding the proposed second rail bridges over Lake Pend Oreille and Sand Creek, announcing Sept. 4 that those documents will be available to the public Sept. 5.

The bridges, proposed by BNSF, require the Coast Guard Bridge Permit because they are “structures over navigable waters of the United States,” according to a notice of availability published Sept. 4 to the Federal Register.

“Based on the information examined through the study of this Project, the USCG has determined that an Environmental Assessment is the appropriate level of environmental documentation,” according to the notice. “The USCG has determined that there are no significant impacts associated with the Project and has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact.”

BNSF proposed the new bridges — which would run parallel to existing rail bridges across both the lake and Sand Creek — in an effort to alleviate congestion on BNSF’s mainline as trains wait at crossings in town to use the single-track bridges. Opponents of the project contend that adding more bridges increases the chance for derailments of hazardous materials into area waterways.

According to the USCG notice, the FEA and FONSI are available to read online at, or in print at the Sandpoint Library during regular business hours.

Those with questions can contact USCG District Bridge Manager Steven Fischer at 206-220-7282.

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