Norton Asks FHWA to Delay Record of Decision for CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released a letter she sent yesterday to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Acting Administrator Gregory G. Nadeau urging the FHWA to delay the issuance of the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project’s Record of Decision (ROD) until September 15, 2014, to allow oversight of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) by the D.C. Council, which has requested more time to do so. The FHWA is set to release the ROD sometime after August 14.
“The District of Columbia Council Committee of the Whole and its Committee on Transportation and Environment have scheduled an oversight hearing on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project for August 26, 2014,” Norton said. “Because the District, where this work is to take place, intervened, I ask that the FHWA delay the issuance of the ROD until September 15, 2014, as a courtesy to the D.C. Council’s oversight obligation to D.C. residents.”
In June, Norton requested that the review period for the project be extended from 30 to 90 days and an additional public meeting on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). FHWA agreed to extend the review period to 60 days, and a second public meeting took place on July 31, 2014.
CSX’s Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project is privately funded, but there are some federal properties that will be impacted by construction necessitating the FHWA and DDOT approvals. In addition, a number of residents have raised concerns about the proximity and duration of the proposed tunnel construction, which would run close to their homes.
Norton has hosted two community meetings with the surrounding community near Capitol Hill, the FHWA, DDOT, and CSX. She also attended a July 1 public meeting, the first of two on the Final EIS, hosted by FHWA, DDOT and CSX.
Norton’s letter follows:
August 4, 2014
The Honorable Gregory G. Nadeau
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Acting Administrator Nadeau:
Thank you again for the attention your agency, and especially the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), has given to community concerns regarding the proposed CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project. The residents affected by the project have indicated they are grateful for the planned second public meeting and additional time to review the Final Environmental Impact Study (EIS). However, recent developments necessitate a further extension of the Final EIS review and comment period.
The District of Columbia Council Committee of the Whole and Committee on Transportation and Environment have scheduled an oversight hearing on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project for August 26, 2014. In addition, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Council Member Mary Cheh have sent a letter to District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) raising concerns and seeking explanations regarding agreements made between CSX and DDOT prior to the issuance of the Draft EIS. In this letter, the Council Members request that DDOT delay the issuance of any permits until September 15, 2014. The Council Members go on to request that DDOT delay its part in the issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the project until this date, if necessary. However, the issuance of the ROD is a purely federal action, and only FHWA will sign and issue the ROD.
Because the city, where this work is to take place, has serious concerns, I ask that the FHWA delay the issuance of the ROD until September 15, 2014, to accommodate any investigation and oversight of DDOT by the D.C. Council. I ask that this request be given full and fair consideration consistent with applicable law, rules, and regulations.
Eleanor Holmes Norton