Although the Canaveral Port Authority has yet to respond to the National Surface Transportation Board's request for more information on its plan to erect an 11-mile long earthen-dam commercial rail causeway through protected wetlands and an estuarine system that is home to the world's highest concentration of endangered West Indian manatees, the United States Air Force has.
The NSTB gave the CPA a deadline of Feb. 26 to respond, although there was no penalty associated with the deadline. The United States Air Force, on the other hand, responded on March 19 -- one day before its deadline from the NSTB.
In that letter, posted below, Thomas Eye, Director of Plans and Programs for the 45th Space Wing, dismissed any of the alternatives mentioned during scoping meetings -- required by federal statute -- that involved routing the project across Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Alternative's 1a and 1b were not feasible because they crossed the airfield, which Eye said would "render the facility unable to support our mission." Those alternatives also ran past critical launch complexes and that any proposed route coming in close proximity to those facilities "would not be considered feasible due to safety, security and hazardous operations related to those facilities."
There is a shred of hope for those opposing gouging the earthen-dam causeway out of the northern end of the Banana River Lagoon, however. Plan 1c, which runs along the western transportation corridor of CCAFS, was not possible to evaluate due to "multiple hazardous operating facilities, critical telemetry and radar equipment, and cultural and natural resources along the route."
Eye says that an evaluation of that route, similar to the one conducted relating to the existing NASA routes would be needed to be performed by the NSTB. That could be just the opening that concerned environmentalists and outdoorsmen need.
The Wing did not comment on route 1d, which does not fall on their property.
Presumably its not a matter of if, but when the CPA will respond. If you want to keep track of incoming correspondence regarding the Rail Extension Project, go here. If you'd like more information about possible impacts and how to get involved, visit here.