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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will begin holding public hearings next month on its Tier 1 draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Northeast Corridor (NEC).Unveiled yesterday, the DEIS is part of FRA's "NEC FUTURE," which is the federal agency's long-term investment plan for the corridor between the District of Columbia and Boston. In the document, the FRA narrowed the possibilities for upgrading the NEC to one no-action alternative and three action alternatives, with price tags ranging from $20 billion to $290 billion, federal officials said in a conference call Monday.The visions range from maintaining the current level of investment and service to significant investment that would dramatically increase the use of rail in the corridor, FRA officials said in a press release. They made the DEIS available for public review at www.necfuture.com.Federal officials made the case for the investments because the NEC is the nation's busiest rail corridor, with more than 700,000 passengers traveling every weekday through the corridor's eight states and D.C. "Over the next 30 years, an additional six million people will live along this corridor. To keep everyone to move safely, quickly and efficiently, we need smart planning and significant investment in the Northeast Corridor," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a prepared statement.From an economic perspective, the NEC contributes more than $100 million every day to the region's economy, but operates on congested, outdated infrastructure that in some cases is more than a century old, Foxx and federal officials noted."Trains that connect our nation’s university hub to its financial center to its capital ride over bridges built before 1910 and through tunnels built after the Civil War,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg. "NEC FUTURE will guide the region in developing a long-term framework to build a stronger Northeast Corridor that supports economic growth and creates jobs."The FRA will begin holding the public hearings on Dec. 9 in Boston. The schedule is as follows:• Dec. 9, Boston, Back Bay Events Center;• Dec. 14, New Haven, Conn., Gateway Community College;• Dec. 15, New York City, CUNY Graduate Center;• Dec. 16, Washington, D.C., Hall of States;• Dec. 17, Providence, R.I., Rhode Island Department of Administration;• Jan. 11, 2016, Philadelphia, SEPTA, 1234 Market St.;• Jan. 12, Mineola, N.Y., Nassau County Municipal Building;• Jan. 13, Hartford, Conn., The Lyceum;• Jan. 14, Baltimore, University of Baltimore;• Jan. 19, Newark, N.J., New Jersey Transit, 1 Raymond Plaza East; and • Jan. 20, Wilmington, Del., Delaware Technical Community College.The public comment period on the document is open until Jan. 30. Comments may be submitted in person at the hearings or online at necfuture.com.
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