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Another option eyed for moving hazardous trains out of D.C.

(The Associated Press circulated the following article on May 4.)

WASHINGTON -- They lost in court, but the D.C. government may still be able to do something about the hazardous trains that run through the city.

The National Capital Planning Commission and the District's Department of Transportation will study ways to possibly relocate a seven-mile stretch of track. It runs from Alexandria (website - news) , north into D.C., then continues up to Hyattsville.

Using a $1 million federal grant, the study will look at everything from security risks to the infrastructure of the line, which is owned by freight railroad CSX.

On Tuesday, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the city cannot enforce a ban on hazardous rail shipments near the U.S. Capitol building. The ruling by the three-judge panel overturns last month's lower court ruling that would've allowed the city to enforce the law while CSX Transportation moves forward with a lawsuit seeking to overturn it.The planning commission is also intrigued by the idea of reconnecting Southeast and Southwest Washington to the rest of the city. They say the tracks currently separate Capitol Hill from the Anacostia River - limiting access to the waterfront.

Meanwhile, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams calls the ruling a step backward for the District - and cities all across the country.

At Wednesday's weekly press briefing, Williams said the city is weighing its options. He also defended the legislation, calling it a "bellweather" for jurisdictions across the nation.

Council member Kathy Patterson, who sponsored the bill, calls the court's decision a "travesty."

Thursday, May 5, 2005

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