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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

North Carolina, Virginia complete draft environmental impact statement for SEHSR corridor


Today, the state of North Carolina, the commonwealth of Virginia and the Federal Railroad Administration jointly announced the completion of a draft environmental statement (EIS) that represents a “key step” toward implementing high-speed rail service in the Southeast, according to a prepared statement.

The Tier II draft EIS covers the portion of the Southeast High Speed Rail (SEHSR) corridor between Richmond, Va., and Raleigh, N.C. The SEHSR project proposes to implement 162 miles of high-speed rail as part of an overall plan to extend high-speed passenger rail service from the Northeast Corridor (Boston to Washington, D.C.) southward through Virginia to Charlotte, N.C. The Richmond-to-Raleigh portion includes nearly 100 new bridges/overpasses that, when combined with existing bridges/overpasses, would create a fully grade-separated system.

“This document represents eight years of engineering and environmental work along with public involvement, and is a major milestone toward implementing high-speed rail in North Carolina and Virginia,” said North Carolina Department of Transportation Director of Rail Patrick Simmons. “This portion of the corridor provides improved north/south service, and it will also facilitate important east/west connectivity.”

Added Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo: “We are very pleased with the multi-state cooperation and agreements with the freight railroads, which will serve as a model for other states in pushing high-speed rail beyond their borders.”

A series of eight public hearings have been scheduled in July to provide the public an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed designs and the associated environmental impacts. Based on input from the public and regulatory agencies, a recommendation report (recommending a preferred alternative) will be prepared, followed by a final EIS and final designs.

North Carolina recently was awarded $520 million in stimulus funds for improvements that will enable higher track speeds and increased frequencies along the corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte, and $25 million for projects to improve reliability of existing service from Raleigh north to Virginia. Virginia also was awarded $75 million for improvements to the Richmond to Washington, D.C., part of the corridor.

The planned SEHSR service would have top speeds of 110 mph with targeted average speeds of 85 mph to 87 mph.

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More News from 6/3/2010