Idaho Public Utilities Commission

Case No. BNR-R-09-01, Order No. 30939

November 3, 2009

Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712

Website: www.puc.idaho.gov

 

Commission does not object to rail abandonment

 

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is not objecting to an application by BNSF Railway Company to abandon a 6-mile section of rail line in the Post Falls and Coeur díAlene areas. The exact location is from Milepost 6.10 near Post Falls to Milepost 12.33 at Coeur díAlene.

 

The railroad is asking the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) to approve a waiver from a much longer abandonment process if the railroad can 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 on the line. BNSF states there are no shippers remaining on the line and that there has been no traffic on it for many years.

 

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is required to conduct a public hearing before the proposed abandonment is considered. The commissionís role is 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. If the commission determines the proposed abandonment is not in the public interest, it files comments and represents the state before the STB. If there are no objections, the commission does not file comments.

 

The commission conducted a telephonic hearing in Boise on Sept 22. The commission heard from Wendy Gabriel, city administrator for Coeur díAlene, and Don Johnston who owns a warehouse near the rail line. There were not objections to the abandonment. Gabriel said the North Idaho College Foundation has acquired a large portion of the property adjacent to the railroad and that a development plan for the area includes uses by several educational institutions, including North Idaho College. Part of the rail corridor may become a public trail along the lake shore.

 

Because no objections were expressed, the commission will not file comments to stop or delay the abandonment process.