Sandpoint residents weigh in on new rail bridge proposal by BNSF - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Sandpoint residents weigh in on new rail bridge proposal by BNSF

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Sandpoint residents weigh in on new rail bridge proposal Sandpoint residents weigh in on new rail bridge proposal
SANDPOINT, Idaho -

The oil business in the United States is booming, but the more oil that's being shipped across the nation -- the more concerned citizens are of having the product come through their states.

According to Pipeline and and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled in 2013. It's reasons, like this one, that have Sandpoint city officials concerned of a 2nd rail bridge across lake Pend Orielle that BNSF Rail Road Company is pushing for.

"This is lose, lose situation," says Sandpoint Mayor Carrie Logan. "The city has everything to lose and absolutely nothing to gain."

There is currently one rail bridge that runs into Sandpoint -- and BNSF spokesperson Gus Melonas it's a "chokepoint" for trains, a new rail bridge would alleviate the congestion on Sandpoint railways.

"The bridge is like adding another lane through a busy freeway, and this will allow for more efficient movement," says Melonas.

Sandpoint city officials, like city council member Shannon Williamson, do not share the same optimism, saying the extra rail bridge will result in even more train traffic, especially for coal and oil.

"We're quite concerned that those two very dangerous commodities are going to be coming across the lake that have a huge potential to degrade water quality and really our well being in genera," says Williamson.

Melonas says in the Inland Northwest, oil makes up 4% of shipments -- and there will only be an increase in traffic if the demand is high.

Williamson doesn't want a new rail bridge, but the city has no say in whether or not that happens, instead they're relying on the public comment section of various government permits the rail company must apply for.

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