Environmental Matters > CSX - Louisville & Indiana
CSX Transportation, Inc. – Joint Use – Louisville & Indiana Railroad Company, Inc.
In late summer 2013, the Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA)) issued a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) that analyzed the potential environmental effects of a proposal by CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT) and the Louisville and Indiana Railroad Company (L&I) to jointly operate over L&I’s 106.5-mile rail line between Indianapolis, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky. On October 27, 2014, OEA issued a Supplemental EA that addresses environmental issues not considered in the Draft EA.
The proposed joint use analyzed in the Draft EA consists of CSXT seeking to acquire an operating easement that would allow additional CSXT trains to operate over the L&I rail line, along with a small number of L&I and CSXT trains that are already operating over the L&I rail line. CSXT would pay L&I $10 million dollars for the operating easement and would spend between $70 and $90 million to improve the rail line to allow CSXT to move longer (up to 7,500 feet from 5,100 feet) faster (up to 49 miles per hour from 15 miles per hour), and heavier (from rail cars that can carry 268,000 pounds of freight to ones that can carry 286,000 pounds of freight) trains.
Currently, the L&I rail line carries two to seven trains per day on the various sections of the line. Under the proposed joint use, CSXT would reroute some its trains from current CSXT routes in the Indiana-Ohio-Kentucky region to a new route that includes the L&I rail line in Indiana. The rerouting of these CSXT trains would add 13 to 15 trains per day over the various sections of the L&I rail line. The Draft EA focused on the potential impacts of these proposed operational changes on the L&I rail line including grade crossing delay, emergency vehicle access, noise and vibration, and other topics. The Draft EA also considered potential construction impacts associated with the extension of several rail line sidings and replacement of the Flatrock River Bridge, all on the L&I rail line.
During the public review and comment period on that document, OEA received comments that raised environmental issues not addressed in the Draft EA. As a result, OEA decided to prepare a Supplemental EA focusing on the new environmental issues. OEA completed the Supplemental EA and distributed the document for review and comment (The Draft EA is available here and the Supplemental EA is available here.
Overview of the Supplemental EA
The rerouting of CSXT trains under the proposed joint use would also increase daily train traffic on several CSXT rail lines that connect with the L&I rail line; however, there would be no construction on any CSXT rail lines as a result of the proposed joint use. Therefore, the Supplemental EA analyzes the potential operational impacts of CSXT moving additional trains on the following three CSXT rail lines:
The Supplemental EA focuses on the potential impacts of the proposed operational changes on these three CSXT rail lines including vehicle delays at grade crossings, emergency vehicle access, noise and vibration, air quality, and other topics relevant to the proposed increases in train traffic. In response to comments on the Draft EA, the Supplemental EA also quantifies potential impacts to wetlands, floodplains, and forested areas that could result from extending rail line sidings and replacing the Flatrock River Bridge on the L&I rail line. Additionally, the Supplemental EA includes a review of potential changes wildlife strikes that could result from the rerouting train traffic on the L&I and CSXT rail lines under the proposed joint use.
The Supplemental EA preliminarily concludes that the proposed joint use would adversely affect two areas of concern: vehicle delays at several at-grade crossings and increases train-related noise to levels where mitigation could be warranted for several hundred homes and other noise sensitive receptors along the Indianapolis Terminal Subdivision – Louisville Secondary Branch. In response to these potential adverse effects, OEA developed mitigation measures and preliminarily recommends that the Board impose these (and other) measures in any decision approving the proposed joint use.
Additionally, the Indiana State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and OEA concur that (1) replacement of the Flatrock River Bridge would constitute an adverse effect on a historic property considered eligible for inclusion on the National Register; (2) avoidance of the adverse effect is not feasible if the L&I rail line is to safely accommodate the modern rail traffic under the proposed joint use; (3) there appears to be no feasible alternative to bridge replacement and that documentation prior to removal would be an appropriate mitigation measure; (4) documentation completed by Applicants meets SHPO’s standards; and (5) a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) would memorialize the mitigation measures (i.e., documentation) and resolve adverse effects of the undertaking. OEA prepared a draft MOA that SHPO indicates it would sign as currently drafted. The draft MOA is located in Appendix I of the Supplemental EA and interested parties are invited to comment.
OEA targeted distribution of the Draft EA to local agencies, community officials and other interested parties along the L&I rail line. Likewise, OEA targeted distribution of the Supplemental EA to local agencies, community officials and other interested parties along the three CSXT rail lines identified above. Both documents were also distributed to appropriate federal and state agencies.
OEA Invites Your Comments
OEA encourages interested parties to send us written comments on this Supplemental EA. If you submitted comments on the Draft EA, you do not need to resubmit those comments. OEA will consider and respond to comments received on both the Draft EA and on this Supplemental EA in the Final EA. The Final EA will include OEA’s final conclusions on potential impacts that could result from the proposed joint use and OEA’s final recommendations, including final recommended mitigation measures. To be considered, comments must be submitted during the comment period, which will close on December 1, 2014. OEA anticipates issuing the Final EA by the end of December 2014. The Board will issue a final decision on the proposed transaction after the issuance of the Final EA.
When submitting comments on the Supplemental EA, please be as specific as possible. OEA is particularly interested in your thoughts on the recommended mitigation measures. Any suggestions you may have to improve OEA’s recommendations to the Board would be very welcome.
Comments may be submitted by electronically through the Board’s website or by mail as instructed below:
Surface Transportation Board
395 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20423
Please refer to Docket No. FD 35523 in your comments or any correspondence with the Board on this proposed joint use.
If you have questions or need clarification or guidance, please call Dave Navecky at 202- 245-0294.