The District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will be preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the re-construction of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel (VAT). The EIS will be prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508), and the FHWA's Environmental Impact and Related Procedures (23 CFR 771). Effects to the historic resources from this project will also be assessed in compliance with the Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. FHWA is the lead federal agency for the project; the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), the Federal Railroad Administration, the Marine Barracks Washington-Department of the Navy, and the National Park Service (NPS) are cooperating agencies.
CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT) has requested the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to consider permits allowing CSXT the temporary usage of air rights in the vicinity of Interstate 295 / 11th Street Bridges and for temporary closure of the Southeast Freeway / I295 ramp on 8th Street, SE to facilitate construction associated with the Virginia Avenue Tunnel. This request will require oversight and approval by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Owned and maintained by CSX, the tunnel is located in southeast Washington, DC, beneath the eastbound lanes side of Virginia Avenue. The tunnel’s west and east portals are located near 2nd Street SE and 11th Street SE, respectively. The tunnel is approximately 4,000 feet long and contains a single railroad track.
The purpose of the project is to provide CSX with the ability to operate double-stack intermodal container freight trains on a vital segment of the nation’s rail network, and eliminate a chokepoint caused by the Virginia Avenue Tunnel’s single track. In addition, the VAT is more than 100 years old and will, in any event, require major rehabilitation or reconstruction at some point. By creating a reconstructed Virginia Avenue Tunnel with a vertical height that will allow CSX to operate double-stack intermodal container freight trains, the railroad will be able to expand its capacity to transport freight in an environmentally sensitive manner. And, because the new tunnel will re-establish a second set of tracks (the tunnel was originally constructed with two tracks), CSX will eliminate the chokepoint that currently delays all trains traveling through the Washington region.