The U.S. Coast Guard is the lead federal agency in charge of carrying out environmental oversight of the proposed project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We are requesting the Coast Guard perform a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) rather than a less rigorous Environmental Assessment (EA).
From: [Sender Name]
[Address] [City] [State] [Zip]
To: Mr. Steven M. Fischer
Thirteenth Coast Guard District
915 2nd Ave., Rm 3510
Seattle, WA 98174
Re: Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad bridge expansion project (USACE Application No. NWW-2007-01202)
Dear Mr. Fischer:
I am writing regarding BNSF’s proposal to build three new rail bridges in the Sand Creek/Lake Pend Oreille watershed. This includes, among other key project activities, a new bridge across Lake Pend Oreille adjacent to the existing rail bridge, a new bridge over Sand Creek adjacent to the existing rail bridge, and a new bridge over Bridge Street adjacent to the existing rail bridge.
As the U.S. Coast Guard is the lead federal agency in charge of carrying out environmental oversight of the proposed project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), I respectfully request that the Coast Guard perform a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) rather than a less rigorous Environmental Assessment (EA).
The proposed railway expansion project entails significant direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts to our community, which should be fully examined through an EIS. These include:
- Water quality – increased transport of hazardous materials through the watershed and the possibility of derailment into our local waterways threatens water quality.
- Wildlife habitat – filling wetland and nearshore areas of the lake for additional bridge construction damages sensitive wildlife habitat beyond repair. The proposed project is within the know and/or historic range of bull trout and its critical habitat.
- Traffic – increased train traffic flow through at-grade rail crossings may cause more traffic congestion, not less, as proposed by BNSF.
- Emergency response – increased train traffic flow through at-grade rail crossings may cause emergency response delays.
- Noise – increased train traffic may result in more whistle-related noise pollution at and around rail crossings.
- Economy – increased train traffic may impact local businesses, property values, aesthetics and the tourism industry.
Furthermore, the proposed project encourages rail activity with cumulative impacts that affect resources far beyond Sandpoint, Bonner County and North Idaho in general, throughout rail-side communities. All of these potential impacts need to be thoroughly evaluated through an EIS before authorization of the proposal is issued.
Thank you for your consideration.
Please personalize your letter. Your comments will be more effective if you personalize the content, especially the introductory paragraph and specific concerns. Introduce yourself, explain your connection to Sandpoint/Bonner County, and why Lake Pend Oreille and our other local waterways are important to you. List the concerns that are most important to you and elaborate on why.
Deadline: The Coast Guard has not specified a public comment period deadline yet, but they are currently accepting comments. Please submit your letter as soon as possible, the more requests for an EIS early on in the process, the better.