U.S. Coast Guard approves BNSF's Idaho rail bridge plan
BNSF Railway Co.'s proposal to build two bridges as part of a second rail line in northern Idaho meets federal environmental requirements, the U.S. Coast Guard announced last week.
BNSF wants to construct railroad bridges across Lake Pend Oreille and Sand Creek at Sandpoint in Bonner County, Idaho. As structures over U.S. navigable waters, the proposed bridges required a Coast Guard permit.
In releasing its final environmental assessment, the Coast Guard announced it found the bridge project would have no significant impact on the environment, according to Sept. 5 notice in the Federal Register.
BNSF proposed the project because the current single-track configuration has become an operational constraint, resulting in congestion on the railroad's mainline, yard tracks and sidings as trains wait for clearance to cross the existing single-track bridges.
Moreover, trains waiting to cross often block vehicular traffic at public and private grade crossings. According to BNSF, the project will relieve the congestion and allow for a more efficient movement of trains through the Lake Pend Oreille region.