A local Washington, D.C. organization has filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping a recently approved expansion of the CSX rail tunnel along Virginia Avenue in Southeast D.C.
The Committee of 100 on the Federal City (C100).
The Committee of 100 on the Federal City (C100), a D.C. nonprofit that promotes responsible land use and planning in the nation’s capital, filed a lawsuit in District Court on Nov. 12 challenging the recent decision by the Federal Highway Administration and District’s Department of Transportation granting CSX Transportation the right to apply for permits to complete the project.
The federal agency’s approval came at the end of an exhaustive environmental review process and the issuance of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The green-lighted plan calls for rebuilding the more than century-old tunnel to accommodate two tracks which will carry double-stacked trains.
C100’s complaint alleges the agency’s approval was in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedures Act because the decision came as the result of “unlawful predetermination.”
“This decision is unlawful, premature and problematic,” C100 Vice President Monte Edwards said in a statement. “The Record of Decision fails to address the severe safety and security impacts the proposed project will have on the immediate community and on Capitol Hill, the constraint on the expansion of passenger and commuter rail service in the District, and the pre-approval by DDOT of the project before any environmental review had been conducted.”
The lawsuit claims the rail company’s Environmental Impact Statement inadequately addressed the option of rerouting the rails around the District and also gave short shrift to considerations of the “potential costs of reasonably foreseeable rail spills or incidents,” among other perceived shortcomings. The fact that Maryland recently rejected plans for a double-stacking terminal in Baltimore also undermines CSX’s argument that the expanded tunnel would remove an existing bottleneck, the complaint continues.
“Issuance of the Record of Decision ends the administrative process, and litigation is the only option to obtain a new EIS that addresses our concerns. Until we have a new EIS, no permits should be granted by the District or federal officials,” Edwards said.
In conjunction with the complaint, C100 also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to halt any further action on the tunnel until the District Court issues a decision.