MIDDLEBURY RAIL SPUR
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
MINUTES OF MEETING MAY 7, 2001
AGENCY OF TRANSPORTATION, MONTPELIER, VT
1. INTRODUCTION OF PARTICIPANTS
2. REPORT OF PROGRESS/ACTION SINCE LAST MEETING: OMYA
2.1. Erik Bohn reported on OMYA and VTR (Vermont Railways) initiatives, and formation of coalition of Rutland and Addison County business leaders called One Voice for Rail with a goal to upgrade tracks and bridges along U.S. Route 7 corridor, several meetings with Legislators (including briefing in Montpelier to 32 Legislators and 45 business leaders), train ride to show rail requirements (in which 15 Legislators participated), weekly legislative alert updating progress of appropriations for rail, and support for appropriations sought for VAOT projects and Governor's budget request with $4 Million in approvals to date in Senate and House appropriations budgets.
2.2. Ken Enzor reported on OMYA initiatives to obtain federal funding for rail initiatives, including $2.42 Million in earmarked funds. (See handout dated April 2000 entitled "Mid-Vermont Intermodal System Enhancements")
2.3. Jim Reddy reported OMYA plans to travel to Washington to meet with Congressional delegation to demonstrate appreciation and support for federal funding; meeting scheduled for May 22, 2001; OMYA invites others to attend or issue written support. JR also advised that Jeff Munger (of Sen. Jeffords' office) advised he would be willing to attend the MOU meetings, and the consensus was that he should be invited to attend.
2.4. Jim Reddy also reported a follow-up rail trip to review and expose the corridor to Rutland and Addison County Legislators, to which the press will be invited, and JR again encouraged all to support the effort.
2.5. Dave Wulfson reported on VTR initiatives, working closely with the City of Rutland on the rail yard relocation effort, the investigation of the Center Rutland Wye (to enable Hz-mat trains to avoid Rutland City and to enable some through traffic to avoid the City as well) (see aerial photograph handout), the engagement of Dubois & King to investigate the Leicester and Salisbury sites for truck to rail movement of ore from the Middlebury Quarry (see letter dated April 9, 2000[sic]), and the investigation of the "Railmate" system. (See item 2.7 below)
2.6. Don Burns elaborated on the truck to rail approaches as interim, with the A-1 rail alternative still considered the overall goal for the long-term, with an additional alternative under consideration of a truck to rail option following the A-1 route. Don also reported on the Three Mile Bridge replacement concept as an additional truck to rail alternative being evaluated by Dubois & King. (See map handout)
2.7. Jim Reddy reported on other alternative means of ore transportation under consideration by OMYA. Before doing so, he raised the issue of Mark Sinclair/Conservation Law Foundation's conflict in opposing OMYA's proposed activities in Danby, and asked MS/CLF to sign a confidentiality agreement. MS declined and left the room during the presentation of alternatives. In considering the alternatives, the engineering firm evaluated energy consumption, cost, physical attributes and demands, and other environmental and related impacts.
2.8. Erik Bohn provided more detail regarding the "Railmate" system, and indicated that it merits (and will receive) further evaluation, especially to determine whether it can be operated as a side dump in the "train" configuration and the economics of the system. (See photographic handouts)
3. REPORT OF PROGRESS/ACTION SINCE LAST MEETING: ANR
3.1. Scott Johnstone reported that ANR has assigned Steve Sease as the person responsible within ANR to coordinate the ANR activities.
4. REPORT OF PROGRESS/ACTION SINCE LAST MEETING: AOT
4.1. Greg Riley reported on meeting with members of the Legislature at AIV and at the House Transportation Committee Hearing in support of appropriations.
4.2. GR also reported having visited the Middlebury Quarry and his observations of the alternative routes (especially flood plain) to observe high water and potential impacts; GR expressed concern that the impacts of the floodway might be significant.
4.3. Greg Riley stated that AOT personnel were reviewing the A-1 "fly-over" video, which offered a helpful perspective of that route. He will pass the video along to ANR for its review.
5. REPORT OF PROGRESS/ACTION SINCE LAST MEETING: ACCD
5.1. John Kessler reported on attendance at House Transportation Committee Hearing in support of appropriations
5.2. JK stated that it was during that hearing that he first had heard of the Three Mile Bridge alternative and he recommended that additional information be provided regarding the bridge that had been there and the feasibility of using that route with a replacement bridge or otherwise
5.3. JK reported on his invitation to the meeting of representatives from the Addison County region, and expressed his recommendation that regional and local bodies be kept informed and involved. (Paul Craven advised that he had met with representatives of Middlebury, Salisbury, and Leicester to keep them informed of activities and that he would continue to do so.)
6. REPORT OF PROGRESS/ACTION SINCE LAST MEETING: CLF
6.1. Mark Sinclair reported on attendance at House Transportation Committee Hearing in support of appropriations, and that the meeting went well.
6.2. MS reported on Committee Chair Pembroke's statement that the Committee would provide a lot of support given the right circumstances
6.3. MS also expressed his perceptions that the Committee did not like the "short-term, band-aid approach" and that the MOU group should focus on the long-term, best solution and pursue that. MS also expressed the importance of public support, especially for the Three Mile Bridge alternative, and that the Towns should be invited to the MOU group meetings so that they could be kept informed.
6.4. With regard to the federal funding initiative taken by OMYA, MS stated he was "very pleased; [OMYA has] gone further than we could and has made incredible progress in a couple of months"
6.5. MS said he thought the use of the A-1 route as a truck to rail alternative was very smart and asked for more information. Jim Reddy generally described the approach of building a road in the locale proposed for the railroad bed and using a conveyor to cross Otter Creek pending the longer term permitting for the railroad
6.6. MS reminded all of the revocation proceedings pending at the Environmental Board (report due to Board on May 23, 2001), and stated that CLF wants to see a time-line to get back on track with the MOU, especially ANR issues and funding.
7. DISCUSSION OF NEXT STEPS:
7.1. Mark Sinclair asked for a commitment (within a time certain) for the development of the work-plan (see MOU B.14) and identification of studies and permit issues (see MOU B. 11)
7.2. A discussion ensued as to who could do what, by when, and with regard to what alternative(s)
7.3. It was agreed that, in view of A-1 as the evident long-term preferred route, the AOT, ACCD, and ANR would meet and coordinate to set up a time line of the activities to be done and to submit a report to the MOU group by e-mail.
8. NEXT MEETING: June 13, 2001 at AOT, 11:00 to 1:00.