SANDPOINT — The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking public comment on a BNSF Railway proposal to construct new bridges across Lake Pend Oreille and Sand Creek.
The deadline to submit remarks on the proposal is Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. The bridge requests are being reviewed by the Coast Guard’s 13th District, which oversees the Pacific Northwest.
The bridge proposals have been alternately been welcomed and opposed by the community. Supporters of the project contend it will facilitate commerce and reduced holdups at at-grade railroad crossings in Bonner County. Opponents maintain the bridges will increase the likelihood of hazardous material spills and derailments, in addition to exacerbating global climate change through added fossil fuel consumption.
However, the Coast Guard is seeking comments exclusively related to the project’s effect on navigation on Lake Pend Oreille and Sand Creek.
“Mariners and maritime stakeholders are requested to express their views, in writing, on the proposed bridge and its possible impact on navigation, if any, giving sufficient detail to establish a clear understanding of their reasons for support of, or opposition to, the proposed work,” the Coast Guard said in a federal notice announcing the comment period.
The notices, which include bridge renderings and diagrams, can be viewed online (navcen.uscg.gov/D13BN).
The railroad is seeking approval to construct a 4,874-foot-long bridge approximately 50 feet west of the existing railroad bridge over the lake, which will remain in service once the new bridge is constructed. The second bridge will consist of 49 spans with 48 in-water piers. It will be made of pre-cast, pre-stressed I girders and will have a cast-in-place deck, according to project documents.
The new bridge across the lake will have a horizontal clearance of 93 feet and vertical clearances ranging from 14.6 feet to 15.5 feet.
The second bridge will parallel the existing span over Sand Creek, which also will remain in service if the new bridge is built. It will be 505 feet long and 21 feet wide, and boast horizontal clearances ranging from 13 feet to 71 feet. The new span’s vertical clearance would be 16.8 feet.
Written comments should be directed to Bridge Administrator Steve Fischer, U.S. Coast Guard 13th District, 915 Second Ave., Room 3150, Seattle, WA. 98174-1067. They can also be submitted by calling 206-220-7282 or via email (D13-pf-D13Bridges@uscg.mil).
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.