The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for NEC FUTURE, FRA’s long-term investment framework for the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Washington, D.C. and Boston, Mass.
“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. “We are seeking input as we work toward developing a long-term vision that will prioritize rail investments to ensure a vibrant and safe future for the northeast region and the nation.”
The Tier 1 Draft EIS includes alternative visions for investment in the NEC. The visions range from maintaining the current level of investment and service to significant investment that would dramatically increase rail’s role in transportation for the Northeast. FRA will hold 11 public hearings to gather input and feedback from stakeholders that will inform FRA’s decision on a preferred investment program.
The NEC is the nation’s busiest rail corridor, with more than 700,000 passengers traveling each weekday through eight states and the District of Columbia. The NEC contributes more than $100 million every day to the Northeast’s economy, but it currently operates on outdated infrastructure, much of it built more than 100 years ago, with capacity constraints that cannot accommodate future growth. Choke points and aging infrastructure often disrupt the system’s reliability and performance.
“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 Tier 1 Draft EIS, which outlines the various visions, is now available for download and review here.
FRA considered a broad range of alternatives for the NEC, beginning in 2012 with a public scoping process and analysis of travel markets. In 2013, the FRA consolidated nearly 100 initial concepts into 15 visions (Preliminary Alternatives) that varied by level of investment, service, and route.
In 2014, the FRA evaluated the Preliminary Alternatives and identified three distinct Action Alternatives; these have been refined and analyzed in the Tier 1 Draft EIS. Each Action Alternative represents a different long-term vision for improving passenger rail service that will enhance mobility options, improve performance, and better serve existing and future passengers in the study area.