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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

USDOT, environmental quality council to expedite environmental reviews for NEC high-speed project


Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced they are launching a pilot project aimed at expediting the environmental reviews for high-speed rail service in the Northeast Corridor (NEC).

CEQ and USDOT will work with stakeholders to identify efficiencies to speed the environmental review process. The review process will help determine possible service types and station locations in the NEC. The pilot calls for involving federal, state and local governments, as well as the public, earlier in the environmental review process to set benchmarks that maintain “rigorous” environmental protections, while also saving time and money by avoiding conflicts and delays in later project-development steps, according to a press release.

“By bringing all involved parties to the table earlier in the process, we will do the job better and finish it sooner,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a prepared statement.

USDOT will post and track project timelines and progress on the Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard, which was launched in November 2011 to enable the public to track high-impact projects. The Transportation Rapid Response team — also created in November 2011 to speed up federal reviews of transportation projects — will help coordinate the high-speed rail planning process to ensure any interagency conflicts are quickly resolved.

The NEC high-speed rail planning project is the fourth project selected by CEQ under its National Environmental Policy Act Pilot program. The agency will use efficiencies identified for the high-speed rail project to develop best practices for environmental reviews across the federal government.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/13/2012