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Environmental Matters > Northern Columbia Basin Railroad Project

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Key Cases: Northern Columbia Basin Railroad Project Abstract

By petition filed on August 28, 2008, the Port of Moses Lake (Port) seeks an exemption under 49 U.S.C. 10502 from the prior approval requirements of 49 U.S.C. 10901 to construct rail lines in Grant County, Washington. In the same petition, the Port also seeks an exemption under 49 U.S.C. 10502 from the prior approval requirements of 49 U.S.C. 10901 to acquire an existing segment of rail line from Columbia Basin Railroad Company, Inc. (CBRW). The Board, through its Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA), and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) are co-lead agencies responsible for the environmental review of the proposed rail project, also known as the Northern Columbia Basin Railroad Project.

The purpose of the Northern Columbia Basin Railroad Project is to provide rail service to lands designated for industrial development in the northern part of the City of Moses Lake as well as to the south and east of the Grant County International Airport, to enhance opportunities for economic development, and to attract new, rail-dependent businesses to those areas. The three components of the proposed project include:

On November 7, 2008, the Preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) was made available to agencies, tribes, the public and other interested parties for a 30-day public comment period. During the comment period, SEA and WSDOT held a Public Open House in Moses Lake on November 20, 2008. The purpose of the Public Open House was to provide interested parties with the opportunity to learn about the proposed project, meet with representatives from SEA and WSDOT, and provide comments on all aspects of the EA, including suggestions for additional mitigation measures. SEA and WSDOT received 29 comments on the EA, which were carefully reviewed in preparing the Final Environmental Assessment (Final EA).

On May 8, 2009, SEA and WSDOT issued the Final EA, which responds to public and agency comments; clarifies, corrects or adds to information that was in the EA; and sets forth the final recommended mitigation measures. Based on an independent analysis of all information available to date, SEA and WSDOT conclude that the proposed rail project would not result in any significant impacts if the mitigation measures recommended in the Final EA are implemented.

For further information concerning the proposed Northern Columbia Basin Railroad Project, please contact: Christa Dean, Attorney and SEA Project Manager, at 202-245-0299, christa.dean@stb.dot.gov, or Elizabeth Phinney, WSDOT Rail Environmental Manager, at 360-705-7902, phinnee@wsdot.wa.gov.

May 8, 2009 Final Environmental Assessment

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November 7, 2008 Environmental Assessment

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