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6/18/2003



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Second round of environmental studies under way for southeast high-speed rail project


The North Carolina Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Highway Administration recently began the second round of environmental studies on the Southeast High-Speed Rail corridor’s Petersburg, Va., to Raleigh, N.C., leg.



The Tier II Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will evaluate specific designs and provide a detailed analysis of potential environmental impacts.



Completed in fall 2001, Tier I EIS evaluated potential impacts of high-speed trains along nine routes within the proposed 500-mile Washington, D.C., to Charlotte., N.C., corridor. The agencies researched high-speed rail’s potential impacts on the economy, communities, surrounding development and other transportation systems, and analyzed engineering feasibility, potential revenue, ridership and costs to determine which route would best support high-speed service.



The preferred route — accommodating 110 mph trains — would include a connection to Winston-Salem. Service eventually might extend to South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.



States along the route are improving infrastructure, such as upgrading grade crossings, replacing track, realigning curves and installing new train signals. Reconstructing and upgrading existing rail lines along the corridor is expected to cost $2.6 billion.



The Tier II EIS is expected to be completed in 2005, with high-speed service beginning in 2010.


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