STB Issues Draft EA for Proposed New Rail Line in Suffolk County, N.Y.

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
STB photo

STB photo

The Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) on Jan. 5 issued a Draft Environmental Assessment (Draft EA) for the proposed construction and operation of a new rail line in Suffolk County, N.Y., by Townline Rail Terminal, LLC (Townline).

On Nov. 17, 2022, Townline filed a petition seeking authorization from STB to construct and operate approximately 5,000 feet of new, common carrier rail line and associated switching and sidetrack in the Hamlet of Kings Park, Town of Smithtown, N.Y. CarlsonCorp, Inc. (Carlson) established Townline in 2021 to be a common carrier railroad.

The Draft EA (download below) analyzes the potential environmental and historic impacts of approximately 5,000 feet of new rail line that would connect to the Long Island Railroad’s (LIRR) Port Jefferson Line.

According to the Draft EA, the proposed line would add two daily New York and Atlantic Railway (NYA) trains (one roundtrip) to the LIRR system five days a week. NYA is a short line railroad that currently operates freight rail service on the LIRR mainline in conjunction with LIRR passenger operations in New York’s Suffolk, Nassau, Kings, and Queens Counties.

NYA, whose parent organization is Anacostia Rail Holdings Company, operates more than 270 miles throughout the LIRR network and maintains selected sidings and tracks designated exclusively for freight service. If the proposed rail line is authorized and implemented, STB says Townline would interchange its rail traffic with NYA, which would then move the commodities off Long Island by rail.

According to Townline, the Proposed Action is needed to provide a rail option for transporting incinerator ash and construction and demolition (C&D) debris off Long Island for customers located on Carlson property and adjacent properties. Townline states that in 2024, Brookhaven landfill (the largest disposal option for incinerator ash and C&D debris on Long Island) “will reach maximum capacity and close.” Townline notes that the proposed line would “offer an alternative to truck transportation off Long Island by providing efficient, direct rail transportation via the LIRR mainline to the interstate network.” In addition to serving Carlson, Townline anticipates it would potentially serve Covanta Energy, a waste-to-energy facility located half a mile west of the Proposed Action that converts Smithtown’s solid waste into incinerator ash, and other shippers in the area.

The proposed federal action STB’s decision to authorize, with appropriate conditions, or deny construction and operation of the proposed rail line. The Proposed Action, STB says, is not being proposed or sponsored by the federal government. Therefore, the purpose and need for the proposed line is informed by the goals of Townline as the project applicant.

OEA concludes that the Proposed Action would have “negligible impacts to all environmental resource areas, excluding biological resources.” For biological resources, OEA concludes that the Proposed Action’s impacts “can be appropriately minimized with the mitigation recommended in this Draft EA.”

OEA invites comments on all aspects of this Draft EA and will consider all timely comments received. All comments on this Draft EA must be submitted by the comment due date, within the comment period, which will close in 30 days on Feb. 5, 2024.

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