Coalfields Expressway – What does it really mean for Southwest VA?
1. Economic Impacts and Need – Although the CFX is touted as an economic development activity, we believe the road will bypass existing economic centers – eliminating through traffic, and putting a nail the coffin for these communities’ economic futures. This belief is supported by studies showing the ineffectiveness of large road projects in bringing economic development to rural communities. The Appalachian Regional Commission and others suggest more cost effective strategies for economic development in the coalfields.
2. Eminent Domain – The new route proposed by Alpha Natural Resources requires the condemnation by eminent domain along large tracts of the proposed road while the mining company profits from the extraction of coal reserves. Taking private land for corporate profit, much less for dubious public value, is an affront to our democratic values.
3. The Unknown Financial Burden – The ultimate cost for this project has always been in doubt. $38 million of Taxpayers’ money has already been wasted, on designing a section no longer under consideration, due to shortsighted planning. Cost estimates fluctuate depending on the whims of the political environment. Furthermore, the lack of transparency due to the Public Private Partnership approach raises the likelihood that millions of tax-payer dollars will be wasted, and that the project will never brought to completion.
4. Water Quality Impacts – The current alignment of the CFX Section 2 increases the direct stream impacts of the project from 4 miles to more than 12 miles. Many of our streams are already impaired by the kind of pollution this project would generate, damaging our valuable natural resources, and further limiting our area’s potential for adventure tourism.
6. Community Health Impacts – We continue to witness the negative health effects of increased mountaintop mining and strip mining on nearby communities. Surface mining associated with the CFX will have similar impacts on the communities adjacent to the CFX route, but will not be subject to SMCRA permitting.
5. Violation of National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) of Laws–
The significant changes made to the route between the original and current alignments, the absence of agency consultation on the Section 2 Environmental Assesment (EA) lead us to believe that regulations meant to protect citizens are being disregarded in order to move this project forward. The EA is inadequate, and VDOT and Federal Highways must prepare a full Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement in order to comply with NEPA.
VDOT has requested public input. If you have concerns about any of the issues above, or have other concerns, please submit a comment at the August 13,14 public hearings or submit them by August 24, 2012, to Mr. Michael Russell, P.E., District Administrator, Virginia Department of Transportation, 870Bonham Road, Bristol, VA 24201. You may also e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please reference “Coalfields Expressway Public Hearing comment” in the subject line.
For more information, visit http://www.CFXconcerns.wordpress.com