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Wednesday, January 09, 2013    

STB to consider Tongue River's supplemental coal line application


The Surface Transportation Board (STB) yesterday announced it accepted for consideration the Tongue River Railroad Co. Inc.'s (TRRC) supplemental application to build and operate an 83-mile line in southeastern Montana that would be used to move low-sulfur, sub-bituminous coal from area mines.

TRRC filed a revised application for construction authority with the STB in October 2012, but modified the planned project via a supplemental application submitted in December 2012. The supplemental application describes the railroad's preferred route on a 42-mile alignment between Coldstrip and Ashland/Otter Creek, the southern portion of which had been approved for construction by the former Interstate Commerce Commission, STB officials said in a prepared statement.

The proposed line would be operated solely by BNSF Railway Co., which owns a one-third interest in TRRC's parent company.

The board now will now consider the proposal's transportation merits while its Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) prepares an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), STB officials said. In November 2012, OEA held public scoping meetings in the project area to help define the range of issues and alternatives to be considered in the EIS. In the near future, the office will issue a final scope of study for the EIS, followed by a draft EIS that will be open to public review and comment, and then a final EIS.

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