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Washington D.C. -- Residents of Capitol Hill and the Navy Yard hope to convince Mayor Vincent Gray to join them in blocking a disruptive CSX railroad plan to widen the controversial Virginia Ave. tunnel through the neighborhoods.

The plan proposes to reroute trains through trench that would close 9 blocks of Virginia Ave for at least three years, and bring open-air train traffic to within feet of residents' front doors.

Fears of accidents with hazardous cargoes including crude oil have fueled anxiety and opposition since a meeting with D.C. delegate Elanor Holmes Norton in November.

Videos show CSX manager Michael Austin at the meeting explaining that while crude oil shipments can flow through DC in "unlimited" quantities, the railroad only transport carloads occasionally. Austin said CSX does not run long trains with only oil through the city.

Crude oil transport is an issue after the deaths of 42 people in Lac Magantic, Quebec on July 6. 2013 after a trainload of crude oil derailed and exploded in the heart of the town. Another derailment in Casselton North Dakota in December resulted in the evacuations of hundreds of people.

Mayor Gray will meet with residents at 6:30 p.m. Thursday Jan. 16 in DC offices at 200 I St. SE.

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