BNSF’s request stems from incidents in 2004. On January 28, 2004, an empty 119 car freight train was stopped on the west side of Marias Pass in John Stevens Canyon by an avalanche that had crossed the tracks. While it was stopped, the train was hit by another avalanche that derailed fifteen cars in two different places. A third avalanche nearly missed clean up crews and a fourth slide hit a truck traveling on U.S. Highway 2. East and west bound passenger service on Amtrak was also temporarily stopped and 70 miles of freight trains were backed up on both sides of Marias Pass for 29 hours.
Following these incidents, Glacier National Park was advised that BNSF wanted to set up an avalanche hazard reduction program. The park determined that an EIS would be required. The EIS project area is roughly between Mile Post 185-191 along U.S. Highway 2 through the John Stevens Canyon. The EIS will analyze resources that would be affected in the project area on Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest (FNF) lands. The railroad lies outside the southern boundary of Glacier National Park on lands owned by FNF; however, the BNSF has a right-of-way on FNF lands.
As part of the park’s public involvement, comments are being sought early in the planning process to insure public concerns and issues are addressed. Comments can be provided directly through the National Park Service’s public comment website for the park: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/parkHome.cfm?parkId=61
. Or write to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Middle Fork EIS, West Glacier, Montana 59936. Comments are due by
July 22, 2005.
In conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, Glacier National Park managers are working to prepare this EIS to address a request by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) to perform avalanche monitoring, stability testing, and triggering in the park. The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking comments and concerns regarding resources that may be affected or issues that the public believe need to be addressed in the EIS.