I’m a Virginia Avenue resident on the front lines of CSX’s proposed expansion of the Virginia Avenue tunnel [“Plan to rebuild CSX railroad tunnel in SE chugs ahead,” Metro, June 14]. My neighbors and I are not the only ones who are worried. The final environmental impact statement, issued by an obsolete city administration, brushes aside critical rail safety, security and infrastructure developments.
Mayors and cities across North America are fighting to protect residents from the exponentially increasing problem of “bomb trains.” They are pushing for rail safety improvements and attempting regulation in, and rerouting around, highly populated areas. Meanwhile, the District and federal governments are on the verge of making the problem worse. Which is all the more remarkable, given the District’s post-9/11 efforts — defeated by CSX — to reroute the worst of the hazmats away from the monument core of the capital.
This tunnel is one piece of antiquated and complicated rail infrastructure — freight and passenger — in the District. The D.C. Council’s 2015 budget includes $500,000 to develop a comprehensive rail plan. The District Department of Transportation may soon be radically reorganized. In the meantime, DDOT is operating under an interim director appointed by a lame-duck mayor. This isn’t the time to “solve” just one part of the problem, and only from the perspective of a multibillion-dollar corporation concerned only about its profits. Let the new mayor and the new DDOT examine this holistically with the new rail plan.
Maureen Cohen Harrington, Washington
The writer is a member of the board of the Navy Yard Neighborhood Association.