There is some news regarding BNSF’s recent filing to abandon 14.5 miles of rail line between Dunfermline and Farmington. Not the news I’m waiting for, but it is news.
The federal Surface Transportation Board released a decision this morning saying that, “the quality of the human environment would not be affected significantly as a result of the abandonment or any post-abandonment activities, including salvage and disposition of the right-of-way.” So an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not necessary for BNSF’s abandonment proceedings.
The Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) recommended one condition for abandonment:
BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) shall retain its interest in and take no steps to alter the historic integrity of all historic properties including sites, buildings, structures, and objects within the project right-of-way (the Area of Potential Effect) that are eligible for listing or listed in the National Register of Historic Places until the Section 106 process of the National Historic Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. 470f, has been completed. BNSF shall report back to the Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) regarding any consultations with the State Historic Preservation Office and the public. BNSF may not file its consummation notice or initiate any salvage activities related to abandonment (including removal of tracks and ties) until the Section 106 process has been completed and the Board has removed this condition.
It also noted that:
Alternatives to the proposed abandonment would include denial (and therefore no change in operations), discontinuance of service without abandonment, and continued operation by another operator. In any of these cases, the existing quality of the human environment and energy consumption should not be affected.
Let’s hope “continued operation by another operator” is how this process ends up.
- David P. Jordan