Railroad Bridges Navigation Comments to Coast Guard Due January 17

Soon after Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) filed our opening brief challenging an Idaho Department of Lands/Land Board encroachment permit for Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s Sandpoint Junction Connector project, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) District 13 bridge program chief Steven Fischer released public notices on December 18, 2018, acknowledging that the USCG has received an application from BNSF, which requests approval of proposed construction locations and plans for second, parallel bridges across Sand Creek and almost one mile over Lake Pend Oreille, both navigable waterways of the United States [1-3].  The lead, federal agency regulating this project is currently asking for public comments exclusively on the “reasonable needs of navigation” potentially affected by the new railroad bridges, encouraging boaters, maritime stakeholders, and the public to carefully review its notice and bridge expansion project summary, plans, diagrams, maps, and locations [4-6].

Please view the searchable, PDF copies of official, signed versions of BNSF applications, as well as the USCG bridge permit application guide and WIRT’s draft comment suggestions describing information missing from the Coast Guard-provided documents and navigation impacted by the proposed, BNSF bridges [7-9].  In your comments, specifically address the compromised safety of navigation around bridge structures and explain other possible, bridge effects on navigation in “sufficient detail to establish a clear understanding of reasons for support of, or opposition to, the proposed work.”  Express your views on or before January 17, 2019, by writing, calling, and sending mail to Commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District, 915 Second Avenue, Room 3510, Seattle, WA 98174-1067, email to D13-PF-D13BRIDGES@uscg.mil, and/or a call to 206-220-7282.

Request inclusion of your comments in the public record for this winter-inappropriate, navigation comment period offering limited, public information and for the forthcoming environmental assessment or more community-preferred and scientifically rigorous, draft environmental impact statement for the BNSF Sandpoint Junction Connector project.  The Coast Guard has not yet completed this separate, environmental review document nor published public and Federal Register notices announcing its availability for review.  WIRT and regional allies will alert you when the USCG releases it, so you can contribute further, effective comments on the socioeconomic and environmental factors and implications of this industrial invasion of the Pend Oreille watershed.

Thanks for your resistance to this fossil fuels-facilitating, railroad scheme and your support of the WIRT collective’s #No2ndBridge litigation of the Idaho encroachment permit for this project, as we continue to work together to protect the health, beauty, and enjoyment of beloved Lake Pend Oreille and interior Northwest air, waters, and lands.

[1] COAST GUARD #No2ndBridge NAVIGATION COMMENTS DUE 1/17/19! December 18, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[2] USCG Seeks Bridge Comments, December 20, 2018 Bonner County Daily Bee

[3] Coast Guard Seeks Comments on Rail Bridge Navigation, January 11, 2019 Sandpoint Reader

[4] Public Notices for Bridges: BNSF Proposal, U.S. Coast Guard:

PN N05-18 Sand Creek, Bonner County, Idaho

PN N06-18 Lake Pend Oreille, Bonner County, Idaho

[5] Public Notice D13-PN05-18: Sand Creek, Bonner County, Idaho, BNSF Bridge Proposal, U.S. Coast Guard

[6] Public Notice D13-PN06-18: Lake Pend Oreille, Bonner County, Idaho, BNSF Bridge Proposal, U.S. Coast Guard

[7] Bridge Permit Application Guide, July 2016 U.S. Coast Guard Office of Bridge Programs

[8] DRAFT USCG COMMENT SUGGESTIONS (1 of 2: MISSING INFORMATION) December 20, 2018 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[9] DRAFT USCG COMMENT SUGGESTIONS (2 of 2: IMPACTED NAVIGATION), January 12, 2019 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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