D.C.

Southeast residents concerned about plans for CSX train tunnel

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(WJLA) - Natalie Skidmore worries about her family’s safety as the proposed plan to widen the Virginia Avenue train tunnel moves forward.

The tunnel runs between 2nd and 11th Streets in Southeast, and would be big enough for a double-stacked train with an additional track.

Planners say this will reduce congestion, maintenance costs, and emissions in D.C. and across the region. But Skidmore is concerned over the possible long-term effects.

"We could be living right next to double stacked freight cars carrying hazardous materials like Bakken crude oil running through partially open trench in our front yards for months if not years."

City officials assure us there will be no open trench, but the Navy Yard resident says two other standing issues should be resolved before the project moves forward. One of them is D.C. Council Resolution requesting a congressional hearing on the project. The community is also asking for a comprehensive rail study they hope will show the impact of commuter and passenger rails.

CSX officials told ABC 7 that they plan “to make safety our top priority during and after construction; to minimize the impacts of construction on local residents and businesses; and to collaborate with the community on enhancements that help make a great neighborhood even better."

In order to do that, they plan to limit construction hours, control dust at the site, use barriers to reduce noise and vibration, and work with the city to reduce the amount of traffic congestion. They will also financially compensate those residents that are impacted the most.

Still, all of this does not change Skidmore’s concerns as a mother:

"The experts that we are working with say this project as it's proposed could frustrate commuter and passenger rail in the district for decades to come, which is why it is important that there is a comprehensive rail study to understand the impact before this project moves forward and it can't be undone."

Those in the neighborhood can still weigh in at a public hearing on the evening of July 1 at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. The city then has 30 days to finalize a plan.

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