BNSF Railway wants to expand rail bridge infrastructure in our backyard by building a series of 3 new rail bridges. The largest bridge would cross nearly a mile over Lake Pend Oreille, adjacent to the existing rail bridge. The other two bridges would also parallel existing bridges that cross over Bridge St. (to City Beach) and Sand Creek. Construction could take at least 3 years to complete, if not more.
Given the significant scope and timeline of this project, you would imagine that a thorough environmental review of the proposal would be obvious, but unfortunately this is not yet the case. That’s why we are strongly advocating for a full Environmental Impact Statement in order to fully evaluate the impacts of this project on endangered bull trout, our water and air quality, cultural sites of importance to our regional tribes, and social and economic impacts to our local community.
IDL Public Hearings
Do you want to weigh in on BNSF’s proposal for rail bridge expansion? You will have two opportunities to do just that this coming Wednesday, May 23rd!
Many of the agencies that are responsible for permitting the proposed project are going to be in attendance in addition to the Idaho Department of Lands including the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That means your comments will be heard by the lead agencies that are reviewing the most critical components of the proposed project, including environmental review.
Even though build out of this project could have a significant impact on our overall quality of life, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps have only committed to the lowest level of environmental review, which is unacceptable. Now is the time for you to tell permitting agencies that you deserve better!
Date of Public Hearings: Wednesday, May 23rd
Location and Times:
- Ponderay – Ponderay Events Center, 401 Bonner Mall Way, Suite E. at 8 am sharp
- Sandpoint – Sandpoint Middle School Gymnasium, 310 S. Division at 6 pm sharp
Format: BNSF will provide an overview of the proposed project and each of the permitting/regulatory agencies in attendance will share what their regulatory authority is and what part of the project they are responsible for permitting.
Public Comment: Participants will be asked to indicate on a note card whether they intend to speak or submit written comments during the hearing. Those that wish to speak will be given up to 3 minutes to complete their testimony. It’s important to note that this is not a question and answer session, but rather a “fact finding” mission for the agencies involved.
Tips for Effective Comments:
Personalize your comments for maximum impact. The agencies in attendance want to hear specifically how the proposed project will impact you and the things you care about, like clean water! You can find additional information on what each agency would like to collect comments on and tips for providing effective public comments by clicking here.
Last, but not least, we encourage participants to be civil and respectful of everyone who takes the time to attend the hearing.
Want additional advice on how to best prepare for the hearing?
Please join us on Tuesday, March 22nd at Eichardt’s Pub (upstairs) at 5:30 pm to learn more about the proposed project, ask questions and prepare to participate in one of the two hearings on Wednesday.