Railway impact nothing to cheer about
It was nice to see the smiling-faces photo on the front page of the Oct. 5 Budgeteer. The Gary-New Duluth "shack" is set to be renovated with help from a $100,000 Canadian National Railway Company check. Why this gift? Why now?...
It was nice to see the smiling-faces photo on the front page of the Oct. 5 Budgeteer. The Gary-New Duluth "shack" is set to be renovated with help from a $100,000 Canadian National Railway Company check. Why this gift? Why now?
I can only surmise it has something to do with recent approval of the Steelton Hill Double Track project that will widen the existing railway corridor with another track from Nopeming Junction to this area. The scope of this project is immense - almost 5 miles in length with 14 watercourse crossings, according to the Environmental Assessment Worksheet. Before Duluth Planning staff and Commission approved the project - or the public had a chance to comment - the Duluth Economic Development Authority facilitated the St. Louis County tax-forfeited land acquisition needed for the expansion.
So we may be well on our way to a new recreational center, but what have we given up?
In an era of impending climate change to result in more flood-like precipitation events, we will lose stream-associated wetlands that absorb, clean and slow water flow. According to the EAW, 1,072 feet of open stream channel will be lost, increasing volume and velocity to erode; 14 acres of native vegetation will be cleared, along with the wildlife habitat, greenhouse gas mitigation and overland water flow infiltration this "green infrastructure" provides. The St. Louis River Estuary, the receiving waters of these creeks, is already impaired and a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency "Area of Concern." It needs to be clean for revitalization of the Western Waterfront.
While the hillside along Becks Road takes a huge hit to environmental functionality, the blow isn't even realized by most Duluthians and gets softened by corporate wealth.
Linda Ross Sellner,