Full EIS needed on second BNSF railroad bridge

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For BNSF, as for Bonner County and its communities, a second bridge across the Lake Pend Oreille at Sandpoint is a big deal. A full Environmental Impact Statement is needed to document the advantages and drawbacks of this proposal for all of us. It’s also important that Bonner County advocate to ensure that we are fully prepared for potential catastrophic spills.

I’ve been asked what the needs are; a published plan identifies many, including:

The response equipment that BNSF has provided the Lake Pend Oreille area could be helpful in response to a small spill. But, those involved know that we need a lot more response equipment here locally for a really significant spill. Additional equipment is available in Spokane and Whitefish, Mont., but the time to retrieve it would be far too long to successfully contain a spill.

Deploying spill equipment requires launching boats into the river or lake. During low water times there are no launch sites close to the existing BNSF Bridge. The closest all-weather ramps are at Hope and Laclede.

I some cases, Railroads contribute to the cost of creating underpasses or overpasses for cars and trucks. Sandpoint needs one on N. Boyer and several others are needed around the county.

These are a few of the items that emergency responders, transportation officials and others have identified to me.

STEVE LOCKWOOD

Sandpoint

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