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Caltrain releases draft environmental report on electrification plan

Caltrain is soliciting public comments on its recently released Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the planned electrification of the Caltrain corridor between San Jose and San Francisco.

The Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP) is part of the Caltrain's modernization program to upgrade the railroad's signal system, implement positive train control, electrify the corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, and purchase new high-performance electric rail vehicles. Comments on the EIR will be accepted through April 29.

Caltrain will host four public meetings this month and in April to gather additional reactions to the document, agency officials said in a press release.

The draft EIR marks a "major mileston" in the agency's efforts to improve its commuter-rail service, they said. The draft EIR is required to evaluate the potential impact a project will have on the environment and surrounding community.

The project has "significant local and regional environmental benefits but would also result in certain local environmental impacts," Caltrain officials said. A key issue addressed in the document is tree removal. The worst-case overhead contact system (OCS) configuration could result in the removal of more than 2,200 trees and vegetation, agency officials said. The draft EIR identifies vegetation mitigations including potential OCS alignment options. Alternative pole configurations could help reduce the number of impacted trees and also reduce property needs outside of the rail right of way.

"Now that we know what the potential worst-case local impacts are and have identified feasible mitigation measures in the draft EIR, Caltrain will continue to work with the community partners to figure out how best to apply the identified mitigation to help reduce impacts," said Marian Lee, executive officer for Caltrain's modernization.

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More News from 3/3/2014