Regarding the Jan. 19 Metro article “Navy Yard residents aren’t ready for a railroad’s big dig”:

CSX Transportation’s proposed expansion and relocation of the Virginia Avenue rail tunnel closer to existing homes poses grave health and safety risks for District residents.

Under the projected four- to six-year time frame on this project, CSX would run larger and more frequent trains at increased speeds through an uncovered construction site. This would increase the likelihood of a derailment, as debris from the adjacent freeway, the construction or someone trying to do harm easily could land on the tracks. The risk of a catastrophe is magnified because CSX transports highly flammable crude oil through the District via the Virginia Avenue tunnel.

CSX has never conducted a project like this in such a space-constrained, urban setting. The company’s poor safety record — more than 200 accidents in 2012 alone — makes the stakes even higher.

This proposed expansion brings no benefit to the city or its residents, so why should the District allow itself to be a guinea pig? Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) has the right and the duty to withhold approval for unsafe and unreasonable projects that directly threaten the community. There is no better time than now for Mr. Gray to show his leadership and stop this harmful project before it starts.

David Garber, Washington

The writer is a member of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D.