Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Aug. 16, 2022

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Skagit River railroad bridge permit denied, BNSF plans to reapply


MOUNT VERNON — A plan to replace the railroad bridge over the Skagit River between Mount Vernon and Burlington has hit a snag.

The state Department of Ecology notified BNSF Railway, which owns the bridge, on June 2 that it has denied a permit for the project.

Ecology said in a letter to BNSF that it needs to see plans concerning water quality protection, debris management and construction methodology.

BNSF also hasn’t completed a required environmental review that would evaluate possible ecological impacts of the project.

Lena Kent, director of public affairs for BNSF, said the railway plans to give Ecology the requested information and resubmit the permit application as soon as possible.

The permit was denied without prejudice, meaning BNSF may reapply for the permit, according to the letter written by Joe Burcar, section manager for Ecology’s Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program in the Northwest Regional Office.

The bridge in question, east of the Interstate 5 and Riverside Drive bridges, was built in 1910, and is in need of replacement.

According to initial project documentation from 2021, BNSF plans to build a new, modern bridge about 30 feet downstream of the current bridge, then demolish the old one.

It would also install 2,270 feet of rail to connect existing tracks to the new bridge.

BNSF applied to Ecology for the permit on June 7, 2021. Ecology had a year to issue the permit or deny it.

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