Contact: Dennis Watson
12/06/2002 (Friday)
(202) 565-1596
No. 02-52
FIRS 1 (800) 877-8339

Surface Transportation Board & Cooperating Agencies Issue Draft Environmental Impact Statement for "San Jacinto Rail's" Proposed "Bayport Loop" Railroad Construction & Operation

The Surface Transportation Board (Board) announced today that its Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA) has issued the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) regarding the proposed construction by San Jacinto Rail Limited, and operation by The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) (referred to collectively as "applicants"), of approximately 12.8 miles of new railroad line near Houston, Harris County, Texas. The Board welcomes public review and comment on the Draft EIS. Written or faxed comments are due by January 27, 2003.

The primary purpose of the applicants' proposal is to serve the petrochemical industries in the Houston-area Bayport Industrial District (Bayport Loop). The Bayport Loop consists of approximately 24 shipper facilities. The "Union Pacific Railroad" is currently the only railroad serving the Bayport Loop. The proposed new line would provide BNSF with access to Bayport Loop facilities and would provide area shippers with a choice of rail service.

Working with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (cooperating agencies), SEA issued the Draft EIS as part of the environmental-review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Draft EIS is part of SEA's ongoing evaluation of the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed project, and is based on SEA's independent analysis that included an extensive public scoping process to identify potential environmental issues, review public comments, and consult with public agencies.

In addition to analyzing the applicants' proposal, the Draft EIS, as required by Federal law,
evaluates reasonable and feasible alternatives, including a No-Action Alternative and the Build Alternatives (that is, alternatives involving construction that would cause moderate wetland, surface-water, and biological impacts). In addition, the Draft EIS evaluates the applicants' proposed voluntary-mitigation measures. Such measures address moderate environmental impacts and a range of additional issues of community interest. The Draft EIS also finds that the applicants' proposal and alternatives would cause negligible effects on all other impact areas.

Because of its size, distribution of the entire Draft EIS has been limited to governmental agencies, elected officials, community groups, and parties of record (official participants). However, a Notice of Availability has been distributed to over 1,000 other interested parties, including private citizens, and SEA also has distributed the Draft EIS to the repositories listed below asking that the entire document be made publicly available in respective reference areas. A Spanish translation of the Executive Summary of the Draft EIS also will be available at the following repositories:

San Jacinto College
Central Campus Library
8060 Spencer Highway
Pasadena, TX 77505
(281) 476-1850

San Jacinto College
North Campus Library
5800 Uvalde Street
Houston, TX 77015
(281) 459-7116

San Jacinto College
South Campus
13735 Beamer Road
Houston, TX 77089
(281) 922-3416

University of Houston
Clear Lake Campus
Alfred Neumann Library
2700 Bay Area Boulevard
Houston, TX 77058
(281) 283-3930

Freeman Memorial Branch Library
16602 Diana Lane
Houston, TX 77062
(281) 488-1906

Harris County Public Library
Evelyn Meador Branch
2400 N. Meyer Road
Seabrook, TX 77586
(281) 474-9142

Harris County Public Library
South Houston Branch
607 Avenue A
South Houston, TX 77587
(713) 941-2385

Pasadena Public Library
Fairmont Branch
4330 Fairmont Parkway
Pasadena, TX 77504
(713) 998-1095

Pasadena Public Library
Main Branch
1201 Jeff Ginn Memorial
Pasadena, TX 77506
(713) 477-0276

Deer Park Public Library
3009 Center Street
Deer Park, TX 77536-7099
(281) 478-7208

Houston Public Library
500 McKinney Avenue
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 247-2222

Park Place Regional Library
8145 Park Place Boulevard
Houston, TX 77017
(832) 393-1970

Patricio Flores Library
110 North Milby Street
Houston, TX 77003
(832) 393-1780

Melcher Branch Library
7200 Keller
Houston, Texas 77012
(832) 393-2480

Bracewell Branch Library
10115 Kleckley
Houston, Texas 77075
(832) 393-2580

Tuttle Branch Library
702 Kress
Houston, Texas 77020
(832) 393-2100

Stanaker Branch Library
611 S/Sgt. Macario Garcia
Houston, Texas 77011
(832) 393-2080

Liberty Municipal Library
Geraldine D. Humphreys Cultural Center
1710 Sam Houston Avenue
Liberty, TX 77575
(936) 336-8091

Sam Houston Regional Library
Archives & Information Services
FM 1011
Liberty, TX 77575
(936) 336-9921

Dayton Library
307 West Houston
Dayton, TX 77535
(936) 258-7060

Crosby Branch Library
135 Hare Road
Crosby, TX 77532-8895
(281) 328-3535

Lee College Library
15010 FM 2100 Road
Crosby, TX 77532
(281) 328-1111

Austin Memorial Library
220 South Bonham
Cleveland, TX 77327
(281) 592-3920

Kingwood Branch Library
4102 Rustic Woods Drive
Kingwood, TX 77345
(281) 360-6804

Kingwood College Library
20000 Kingwood Drive
Kingwood, TX 77339
(281) 312-1693

SEA invites public comment on the Draft EIS and SEA's proposed mitigation measures, as well as possible alternative mitigation. SEA, working with the cooperating agencies, will make its final recommendations on the proposal, including environmentally preferable alternative(s) and environmental mitigation, to the Board in a Final EIS. In making its final decision in this case, the Board will consider the entire environmental record, including all public comments, the Draft EIS, the Final EIS, and SEA's final environmental recommendations.

The public may comment on the Draft EIS by submitting written comments by January 27, 2003 to the following address:

Attention: Dana White
Section of Environmental Analysis
Environmental Filing FD No. 34079

Surface Transportation Board
1925 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20423-0001

Because of security-related, mail-delivery delays currently experienced by Federal agencies in Washington, D.C., SEA encourages that comments be faxed to it at 1 (866) 293-4979. As faxed comments will be given the same consideration as comments received by mail, persons submitting faxed comments need not also send comments by mail.

In addition to its receipt of written comments, SEA will host two public meetings on the Draft EIS. At each meeting, SEA will give a brief presentation and interested parties will be invited to make oral comments, and SEA will have a transcriber present to record them in either English or Spanish. Written comments also may be submitted at the meetings. Meetings will be held at the following locations, dates, and times:

Pasadena Convention Center
7902 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena, TX
January 14, 2003
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. CST

Cesar E. Chavez High School
8501 Howard Drive, Houston, TX
January 15, 2003
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. CST

As both meetings will follow an identical format and agenda, it will be unnecessary to attend both meetings. Persons wanting to speak at a public meeting are strongly urged to pre-register by telephoning the Board's toll-free Environmental Hotline at 1 (888) 229-7857 (FIRS for the hearing impaired at 1 (800) 877-8339) and by leaving their names; telephone numbers; the names of any groups, businesses, or agency affiliations, if applicable; and the date of the meeting at which they wish to speak. The deadline for pre-registration for all meetings is January 7, 2003. Those wishing to speak who did not pre-register will be accommodated at each meeting as time allows.

The Draft EIS was issued today in the case entitled San Jacinto Rail Limited Construction Exemption and The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company Operation Exemption--Build-Out To The Bayport Loop Near Houston, Harris County, TX, STB Finance Docket No. 34079. For further information about the Bayport Loop proposal, or to obtain the entire Draft EIS (in hardcopy or on CD-ROM) or its Executive Summary in Spanish translation, telephone the Board's toll-free hotline noted above. A printed copy of the Draft EIS is available for a fee by contacting D~ 2 D~ Legal Copy Service, Suite 405, 1925 K Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20006, telephone (202) 293-7776, or via The Draft EIS also is available for viewing and downloading via the Board's website at