Environmental Matters > CSX - Louisville & Indiana
CSX Transportation, Inc. – Joint Use – Louisville & Indiana Railroad Company, Inc.
The Surface Transportation Board’s (Board) Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) has concluded its review of the potential environmental impacts that could result from a proposal by CSX Transportation (CSXT) and the Louisville & Indiana Railroad, Inc. (L&I) (jointly Applicants) to jointly operate over L&I’s 106.5-mile rail line (L&I Line) between Indianapolis, IN and Louisville, KY (the Proposed Transaction). OEA has carefully reviewed and considered the comments submitted on the Draft Environmental Assessment (Draft EA) and Supplemental EA in preparing its final conclusions and recommendations to the Board, which are contained in the Final EA. The Draft EA assessed the potential Transaction-related environmental impacts on the L&I Line in Indiana and Kentucky. The Supplemental EA focused on specific issues that were raised in comments of the Draft EA. The Final EA responds to the 18 comment letters OEA received on the Draft EA and 16 comment letters OEA received on the Supplemental EA. The Final EA is available here.
On July 2, 2013, Applicants, CSXT and L&I, filed an application with the Board pursuant to 49 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 11323 and 49 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Part 1180. Applicants seek Board authority for CSXT to acquire from and jointly use with the L&I a perpetual, non-exclusive railroad operating easement over the L&I Line. The L&I Line extends from a connection with CSXT in Indianapolis at Milepost (MP) 4.0, to a connection with CSXT in Louisville at MP 110.5. The joint use and easement acquisition are referred to as the Proposed Transaction. Both CSXT and L&I would continue to use the L&I Line.
As part of the Proposed Transaction, 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 Line carries two to seven trains per day on the various sections of the line. Under the Proposed Transaction, CSXT would reroute some of its trains from their current CSXT routes in the Indiana-Ohio-Kentucky region to a new route that includes the L&I 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 Line.
In August 2013, OEA issued a Draft EA that focused on the potential impacts of the proposed operational changes on the L&I 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 a structurally inadequate rail bridge, all on the L&I Line.
During the public review and comment period on the Draft EA, OEA received comments that raised environmental issues that it had not addressed in the document. As a result, OEA decided to prepare a Supplemental EA focusing on the new environmental issues. The rerouting of CSXT trains under the Proposed Transaction would also increase daily train traffic on several CSXT rail lines that connect with the L&I Line; however, there would be no construction on any CSXT rail lines as a result of the Proposed Transaction. Therefore, the Supplemental EA analyzed the potential operational impacts of CSXT moving additional trains on the Indianapolis Terminal Subdivision – Louisville Secondary Branch; Indianapolis Line Subdivision; and Louisville Connection.
The Supplemental EA focused 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 Flatrock River Bridge on the L&I Line. Additionally, the Supplemental EA includes a review of potential changes in wildlife strikes that could result from the rerouting train traffic on the L&I and CSXT rail lines under the Proposed Transaction.
The Final EA responds to comments on the Draft and Supplemental EAs and provides OEA’s final recommended environmental conclusions. No additional environmental analysis was prepared for the Final EA because OEA felt that no additional environmental analysis beyond that presented in the Draft and Supplemental EAs was necessary.
Major Environmental Conclusions
Based on information to date, consultation with federal, state and local agencies; input provided by variety of interested parties; and its own independent environmental analysis, OEA has reached the following conclusions regarding the environmental consequences that could result from the Proposed Transaction:
Collectively, 2 of the 154 public at-grade crossings on the L&I Lines studied would experience vehicle delay of over 40 vehicle hours per day. Additionally, the LOS would degrade 1 level at 1 public at-grade crossings, and the LOS would degrade 2 levels from A to C at 4 public at-grade crossings.
Applicants have volunteered several mitigation measures that address potential traffic impacts (VM 30 through 32, and 49) and OEA recommends 4 additional mitigation measures (MM 1, 2, 8 and 22).
Approximately 1,551 noise-sensitive receptors, primarily residences, along the L&I Line would experience increases in train-related noise to levels at which mitigation could be warranted.
Applicants have offered 8 mitigation measures (VMs 54 through 61) to address potential noise impacts and have also offered a mitigation measure to expand outreach to the environmental justice community (VM 61), including hosting public meetings in the subject neighborhoods to explain the proposed increase in train activity and solicit community concerns about the potential increases in train-related noise. OEA also recommends three additional measures to assist in addressing potential noise impacts (MMs 5, 6 and 22).
Issuance of the Final EA concludes the environmental review process. The Board will now consider the transportation merits of the Proposed Transaction and impose any environmental conditions found to be appropriate to avoid and minimize potential environmental impacts. To that end, the Board will consider the entire environmental record, including the Draft EA, the Supplemental EA, the Final EA, all public comments, and OEA’s final environmental recommendations, including final recommended mitigation measures.