June 16, 2006
Commission won’t object to rail abandonment
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has determined that BNSF Railway’s proposal to abandon a 2.12-mile stretch of railroad in downtown Coeur d’Alene will not adversely affect the area. Consequently, the commission will not oppose the railroad’s petition now before the federal Surface Transportation Board to abandon the rail line.
BNSF Railway is asking the Surface Transportation Board to expedite its approval to abandon the railroad right-of-way that once served the Potlatch Mill location that is now The Coeur d’Alene Resort.
To be eligible for a waiver from a longer abandonment process, the railroad must certify that no rail traffic has moved on the line for the past two years and there are no outstanding complaints about the lack of rail service.
Federal law requires the Idaho PUC to conduct a public hearing on the abandonment to determine if the abandonment 1) adversely affects the area being served, 2) impairs the access of Idaho shippers to vital goods and markets, and 3) whether the rail line has the potential for profitability. The commission conducted that hearing on June 14. No one intervened in the case and no one testified against the abandonment. Commissioners said the entire track in the affected right-of-way had long ago been removed.
The section of right-of-way generally runs from Coeur d’Alene City Park adjacent to Northwest Boulevard, across the front of The Coeur d’Alene Resort, down East Front Avenue, following East Mullan Avenue and terminating at the resort.
The Surface Transportation Board will make the final abandonment decision.