The Virginia Avenue Tunnel currently has a single track that accommodates one train at a time. The reconstruction will increase the tunnel width to install a second track and raise the height of the tunnel roof to make room for double-stack intermodal container trains.
This project will temporarily close a section of eastbound Virginia Avenue (south of I-695) while construction is underway. All cross streets will be open for the majority of the project to limit the disturbance to local residents. CSX has worked with local emergency responders, including the police and fire departments, to make sure that emergency vehicles can reach every resident at all times during construction.
Since 2011, CSX, the District Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration have been working through the rigorous National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to ensure that community impacts are understood, addressed and mitigated before any aspect of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project moves forward.
Through the federal process, we identified all potential environmental impacts and committed to providing appropriate mitigations. There are four basic elements to our approach to offset impacts: 1) modeling, to predict and develop plans to avoid impacts; 2) mitigations during constructions; 3) monitoring to be sure our plans are effective; and 4) modifying our approach, if we learn that they’re not.
The construction plan, which was chosen by the federal and D.C. governments, is the direct response to concerns that community members raised during the environmental review process:
- Offers the shortest construction timeframe (approximately 30 to 42 months);
- Operates trains in an enclosed tunnel in front of all residences;
- Ensures all train operations during construction comply with the same Federal Railroad Administration safety standards that apply across CSX’s network;
- Includes a fully fenced construction site with site security to enhance the safety of neighbors, children and pets;
- Maintains access for residents and emergency responders to all homes and cross-streets during the entire construction process; and
- Establishes a community office at 861 New Jersey Avenue SE staffed during regular hours with CSX representatives who can answer questions, address concerns and handle claims.
We know that construction will cause disruptions to some neighbors’ everyday routines, and we will implement measures to minimize them. The federal process requires significant actions and investments from CSX to limit impacts from construction.
CSX’s efforts to limit construction impacts include:
- Limiting construction hours;
- Controlling dust at the construction site to maintain air quality;
- Reducing construction noise and vibration by creating physical barriers, choosing less noisy construction techniques, and monitoring noise and vibration levels throughout the community;
- Working with District Department of Transportation to monitor and maintain traffic flow around the construction site to reduce impact; and
- Compensation for residents directly next to the project and Virginia Avenue Tunnel neighborhood organizations, to provide resources that they can use to further minimize construction impacts as the residents and organizations choose.