I am asking that the United States Coast Guard do a full Environmental Impact Statement in the hope that it will show that three new railroad bridges adjacent to the existing ones across Lake Pend Oreille near Sandpoint, ID will too greatly contaminate the water quality, lake bottom and shoreline and the marine life in the event of an oil or coal spill. Also, such a spill would very negatively impact tourism in the greater Sandpoint area. Furthermore, unless a regulation is passed to require coal cars to be sufficiently covered to prevent coal dust from falling into the lake, I am concerned that these extra bridges will too greatly increase the rail traffic and attendant possibility of an oil spill, because as BNSF stated in their permit application, “The project need is based on continued growth of freight-rail service demands in the northern-tier high-volume traffic corridor between the midwest and the west coast.”
This is probably due to overpopulation. This existent increase is already increasing the wait times for vehicles at railroad crossings which apparently complicates train scheduling and results in a reduction of train traffic across the lake.
I live on the lake and see that, even though trains cross about every 10 to 15 minutes, there are frequent times when no trains cross for 25 to 55 minutes. I think that more frequent crossings could occur if BNSF could operate independent of the road crossings.
Thus, I conclude, that if increased traffic is inevitable then this is not a bridge problem but rather a road-crossing problem, which could be alleviated by building over/underpasses at nearby road crossings. If this is done then BNSF would be free of any concerns about vehicle delays and could have a more compressed train traffic schedule.
Another solution would be to run the railroad along I-90. However, this would be extremely expensive and would run into opposition from “nimbyites” along the route.
Donald W. Hagen
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