The packet is a summary of what we currently know about the project. Not too many of the details have changed since last time- this update basically confirms much of what was rumored, though some new detail is provided about the permitting process that the railroads will need to go through in order to make this connection.
Since the last update a number of meetings have happened:
- Crystal city staff has had a face-to-face meeting with representatives from Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) to gain clarification about details surrounding the project.
- Our staff also held a meeting with our legislative delegation (Reps Carlson and Frieberg & Senator Rest) some legislators from Minneapolis, a member of the Minneapolis Park Board, representatives from Robbinsdale and Golden Valley, and a senior transportation policy advisor to Governor Dayton to discuss a coordinated approach to responding to this project.
- Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat had a discussion with Senator Klobuchaur’s office to try to engage our federal officials on the matter.
This project should require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before it can proceed, but there is a concern that BNSF may be trying to circumvent or evade this process. Crystal city staff will be following up directly with the Surface Transportation Board (STB), which is the federal agency that regulates this type of rail activity to try to ensure an EIS is required.
If an EIS is found to be required, there will be a public comment period, which will be the chance for Crystal residents to formally provide feedback about this project.
There is a good chance the Crystal Council will be discussing a resolution opposing this project at the next council meeting on February 17. While this type of resolution would not give us the authority to stop the project, resolutions like this can be used as a tool to clearly state the city’s formal position on a topic.
Finally, I have received a few question regarding “quiet zones.” When a quiet zone is implemented that means trains passing through the area would not use their horns. We are looking into what it would take to implement quiet zones in Crystal as part of the overall discussion regarding freight rail. I don’t have any more details on that yet, but I have requested information from our staff, and requested that quiet zones are discussed in any meetings about this project.
As always, I will post more once I know more, and will do my best to answer questions where I can. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.