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Posts tagged: BNSF

LCDC Likely To Help Buy Waterfront

The city of Coeur d’Alene has reached a tentative agreement with BNSF Railway to purchase 2 miles of railroad right-of-way along the Spokane River for future trails and parks. The railroad hasn’t used the line since Coeur d’Alene’s last waterfront sawmill shut down, but it took years of negotiations for BNSF and city officials to reach an agreement on price, said Mike Gridley, Coeur d’Alene city attorney. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, staff will ask the council for approval to finalize the $2.5 million purchase. The 20 acres is appraised at $4.3 million, said Gridley, who credited U.S. Sen. Jim Risch’s office and the Kootenai County commissioners for supporting the plan and helping persuade the railroad to accept the final price. Urban renewal funding from the Lake City Development Corp. is expected to contribute to the purchase/Becky Kramer, SR. More here.

Question: Does this sound like a good deal to you?

BNSF Begins CdA RR Track Removal

A Chicago company this week began tearing out about three miles of a BNSF Railway Co. line that has run through Coeur d’Alene for 100 years. On Wednesday, heavy equipment operators from C&C Track Works pulled up the steel rails and crews followed with long crowbars wrenching up the spikes. When they’re done, said worker Jose Lopez, the rail line will be left a gravel trail. “It’s a lot of work,” said Lopez, who said crews can remove about a mile of rail in a day. Recently, they’ve removed rail lines in Minnesota and South Dakota. BNSF received federal approval about a year ago to abandon six miles of rail line between downtown Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls/Alison Boggs, SR. More here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Question: Once the tracks are gone, the city is mulling the idea of extending a bike trail along the Spokane River through the Mill River subdivision to Huetter. What else would you like to see done with the abandoned track?

County Proposes BNSF Conditions

Item: County proposes BNSF conditions: Railroad stalled previous proposals with lawsuit/Alecia Warren, CdA Press

More Info: Kootenai County is attempting again to improve safety conditions at a train refueling station above the region's drinking water source. The county commissioners are proposing new amendments to the permit conditions for Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railroad's refueling depot in Hauser, after previous proposals were stalled by a lawsuit from the railroad.

Question: Has BNSF gained your trust by its handling of the refueling depot in the past 7 years?

BNSF resists more aquifer funding

Spokane Valley project manager Ken Knutson plugs an ear against a BNSF freight train horn blast at Park Road south of Trent Avenue.

Each year, BNSF Railway Co. pays about $100,000 for programs that protect the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

The money is funneled through the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, where it helps teach school kids about the aquifer that provides drinking water to more than 500,000 of the region’s residents; pays for inspections of industrial sites, including BNSF’s diesel refueling depot in Hauser; and funds collaborative work with other agencies aimed at keeping the aquifer free of contaminants.

The payments date to the 2004 opening of the depot, where up to 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel is pumped into each locomotive. But BNSF wants the payments to stop after 2013. Becky Kramer, SR

What do you think of BNSF's position?


AM: BNSF Honors Military Families

Robert Zeug, who is in the Air Force, prepares to ride the dome car with his daughter Megan, 10, on BNSF’s Holiday Express, a special train on which they offered a free ride Thursday from Spokane train depot. This is the third annual version of the holiday train, on which military families are invited for an excursion on classic rail cars assembled for the event. Mike Prager story here. (SR photo: Jesse Tinsley)

Vestal: BNSF No ‘Good Neighbor’

Remember Livingston. Whatever the outcome of the BNSF Railway Co.’s lawsuit against Kootenai County – in which the railroad argues that the county has no power to make sure it’s not spilling fuel into our drinking water – remember Livingston. Remember Livingston? It’s a great little Montana town, full of artists and writers and good bars and perhaps a touch too much fly-fishing romance, in a valley named Paradise on the road to Yellowstone National Park. And it’s got a Superfund site, where BNSF for years dumped diesel, solvents and asbestos into the soil and water – and then for years wrangled with the state and the people whose health and property it fouled. That’s what things look like on the back end of a big BNSF problem/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Anyone out there willing to say a good word for the railroad?

BNSF Can’t Stop Cleanup Montana Suit

A federal appeals court declined a BNSF Railway Co. request to block a lawsuit filed by 152 Livingston residents who want the company to pay for the cleanup of toxic chemicals from a contaminated rail yard. The city and residents said in the lawsuit that huge quantities of diesel fuel and solvents have seeped into the soil, surface water and groundwater. BNSF had asked a federal judge to block the 2007 lawsuit filed in state district court, arguing the injunction was necessary to keep jurisdiction in federal court, where the Montana Department of Environmental Quality sued BNSF in 1988/Matt Volz, Associated Press. More here.

Question: What? Are you surprised that BNSF is fighting the attempt by citizens to force the railroad to clean up the mess it has made in Livingston, Mont.?

BNSF Has Fueled Us Before

In fact, says Geoffrey Harvey of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, traces of the 2004 leak are still detected in the aquifer. “It’s still an open case. The cleanup standard in the aquifer is ‘no detection,’ which is a very high standard. There are a few polyaromatic hydrocarbons — which are components of diesel — that are still detected,” Harvey says. The amounts are really, really tiny, he says, “but they are not below detection. And that’s the rule for this aquifer because 500,000 people drink from it.” The depot has a clean safety record since it reopened in 2005 after 74 days of court-ordered shutdown and $10 million in repairs, Harvey says/Kevin Taylor, Inlander. More here.

Question: Easily, the worst vote that a Kootenai County commission has made in my 26 years in Coeur d’Alene has been the 2-to-1 decision (Dick Compton & Dick Panabaker vs. Ron Rankin) to allow the railroad to build the refueling depot at Hauser. Can you think of something worse?

BNSF Fights New Environment Rules

BNSF Railway Co. is suing Kootenai County over new regulations proposed for the railroad’s Hauser diesel refueling depot. The railroad – which refuels an average of 30 trains at the depot daily – says that operations at the site are governed by federal transportation law, and that counties lack the ability to impose their own rules. “Kootenai County does not have the authority to regulate freight railroad facilities or operations that are part of the interstate rail transportation system,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene last week. The fueling depot lies over the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, which provides drinking water for more than 500,000 of the region’s residents/Becky Kramer, SR. More here. (SR File Photo)

DFO: This is why you never ever give the railroad an inch, because once they shake down a local government for a conditional use permit they’ll stonewall and sue through their battery of lawyers not to do a scintilla more to protect the environment. When I was on the editorial board, I fought tooth and nail against the refueling depot. Now, BNSF is showing its true colors. We never should have allowed these snakes to build that depot over our aquifer. Period.

Tickets Snapped Up For Free Train Ride

Free train ride tickets across the Rathdrum Prairie on June 22 were grabbed up in 20 minutes this morning as a line of people showed up to get in on the fun. Tickets for the rides were handed out on a first-come basis starting at 10 a.m. at the Idaho State Police office at 615 W. Wilbur Ave. in Coeur d’Alene. People were knocking on the door before the office even opened, a staff member reported. Three trips with departures at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon are planned along tracks near Greensferry Road between Hayden and Prairie avenues, north of Post Falls/Spokesman-Review. More here.

Question: I’ve ridden a train from Whitefish, Mont., to central California and back — at Christmas. Can you beat that?

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D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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