CSX responds to various commenters (ie, Voorheesville, Altamont Library, MWRA (Wachusett Reservoir), Portsmouth residents, Traffic growth forecasts:
https://dcms-external.s3.amazonaws.com/ ... 303033.pdf
Nothing eye opening but a few more i's are dotted:
Re: Voorheesville: CSX will continue to assist in Voorheesville's efforts to establish quiet zones for Selkirk Branch grade crossings that currently see 32.7 daily freights. CSX also commented that the addition of 2 NS trackage rights trains will not require any environmental review.
Re: Altamont library - no environmental review is required. WRT blocked Main St crossing, NS will upgrade track (with CWR) to 25mph MAS permitting a 9,000 ft train to clear the crossing in 4-5 minutes. And here's an excerpt re: the feared vibrations of passing trains:
As to the Library’s vibration concerns, the vibration effects of the NSR operations will be neither extraordinary nor significant. The Library building is a former train station, which has apparently been located adjacent to an active railroad line for over 120 years.
Re: MWRA/Wachusett Reservoir:
As the Board noted in Decision No. 4, CSXT will work actively with local agencies to improve the existing rail infrastructure on the Reservoir Segment. And under this commitment, CSXT and MWRA have made substantial progress in negotiations regarding each area identified by MWRA. In particular:
• CSXT has agreed to upgrade the tracks and track structures within the Reservoir Segment to no less than FRA Class 3 standards;
• CSXT will maintain the tracks and track structures within the Reservoir Segment to no less than FRA Class 3 standards;
• CSXT has agreed that no trains, locomotives, or hi-rail vehicles will operate at a speed over 25 miles per hour (FRA Class 2 track speed) within the Reservoir Segment;
• Except in limited safety-related circumstances, CSXT has agreed not to park or otherwise idle trains within the Reservoir Segment;
• CSXT will provide MWRA and MassDOT/MBTA with information describing the type and quantity of hazardous materials transported over the Reservoir Segment during the previous month;
• CSXT will notify MWRA and MassDOT/MBTA of any relevant derailment, spill, or release;
• CSXT has agreed to the installation of dragging equipment and hot bearing detectors at either end of the Watershed.
Re: Portsmouth residents:
The concerns raised by the Portsmouth residents are pre-existing and will not be affected by the Merger Transaction. However, CSXT acknowledges the residents’ concerns and will work with the residents to reduce the impact of rail operations on their community from Springfield Terminal/CSXT operations. CSXT has a strong record of engagement with communities in which it operates across its network, and Portsmouth will receive the same focus and attention following consummation of the Merger Transaction.
Re: Traffic Growth Forecasts:
As discussed in Section I above, Applicants have submitted traffic growth forecasts confirming that none of the Board’s traffic increase thresholds would be exceeded because of the Merger and Related Transactions, and, therefore, the categorical exclusion applicable to control transactions should apply here. None of the filed comments invalidate – or even challenge – application of the categorical exclusion.
The Commonwealth’s concern with CSXT’s traffic forecasts does not implicate the Board’s categorical exclusion. CSXT has projected that the Merger and Related Transactions would cause PAR/Springfield Terminal traffic over the Ayer-Willows segment (and most other PAR segments) to increase by only approximately 4-11% by 2027, well below the level that triggers environmental review... The potential increases in traffic associated with PAS discussed in the Commonwealth’s comments would not affect CSXT’s forecast. Those traffic increases, if they occur, would not be associated with the Merger Transaction and the Related Transactions but would occur (if at all) with or without the Merger Transaction and Related Transactions. Therefore, they would not relate to the Board’s categorical exclusion.
The Merger Transaction and Related Transactions (including the NSR trackage rights operations) are subject to a categorical exclusion from environmental review. The Rehabilitation Project and NSR operations on its own line do not require an STB license and therefore do not require environmental review. None of the environmental comments submitted in this proceeding have identified any “extraordinary circumstances” in which the excluded transactions “may have a significant effect.” Therefore, Applicants respectfully request that the Board confirm its preliminary conclusion that an environmental and historic review of the Merger Transaction and Related Transactions is not required.