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5/12/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

STB gives San Jacinto's planned Houston line its final blessing


On May 9, Surface Transportation Board approved San Jacinto Rail Ltd.'s (SJRL) plan to construct a 12.8-mile line in Houston — 17 months after SJRL submitted its application to the board.


The decision came a week after STB's Section of Environmental Analysis issued its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the project, which determined that the line poses "no significant" environmental impacts, and recommended 80 mitigation measures to address moderate and negligible impacts, and local residents' concerns.


"We have worked long and hard to see this through to conclusion in an environmentally responsible manner, and we are pleased with the conclusions reached by the STB," said SJRL spokesman Henry A. de La Garza in a prepared statement.


STB set the administrative appeal filing deadline at 30 days after the final EIS is published in the Federal Register. The board's decision will not become final until that date.


Owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe and four chemical shippers, SJRL plans to build the line between Bayport Industrial District in southeast Houston and a connection with the former Galveston, Henderson and Houston Railroad line now owned by Union Pacific Railroad. BNSF will operate the line, which is designed to create a rail alternative to petrochemical shippers now captive to UP.


"Permitting railroads to construct new lines to reach customers is the right way to promote rail-to-rail competition," said STB Chairman Roger Nober.


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