Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Welcome to NEC FUTURE, a comprehensive planning effort to define, evaluate, and prioritize future investments in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), from Washington, D.C. to Boston. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) launched NEC FUTURE in February 2012 to consider the role of rail passenger service in the context of current and future transportation demands. Through the NEC FUTURE program, the FRA will determine a long-term vision and investment program for the NEC, and provide a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Service Development Plan (SDP) in 2016 in support of that vision.
Tier 1 Draft EIS Available for Public Comment
The FRA has released the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement for NEC FUTURE. The Tier 1 Draft EIS assesses the broad impacts of an investment program to improve passenger rail service within the NEC FUTURE Study Area. It evaluates three Action Alternatives for the NEC against a No Action Alternative, and considers impacts to transportation, the economy, the built environment, and natural resources.
The public comment period for the Tier 1 Draft EIS is open until January 30, 2016. Comments may be submitted on this website using the comment form, by email to email@example.com, by mail, or in person at a public hearing. Comments sent via social media will not be included as part of the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement decision-making process.
During the comment period, the FRA will be conducting eleven public hearings throughout the NEC FUTURE Study Area. Members of the public are encouraged to attend one of these hearings to provide input in person.
Attend a Public Webinar on Sept. 17
The FRA has released the Tier 1 EIS Alternatives Report that provides the complete definition and description of the No Action and Action Alternatives that will be presented in the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement later this year.
The Tier 1 EIS Alternatives Report explains the process used to develop and refine the alternatives being analyzed in the Tier 1 Draft EIS. The process included analysis of travel markets, conceptual service plans, ridership modeling, and cost estimating, as well as extensive input from agency and railroad stakeholders and the public.
Along with the release of the document, the FRA will be holding a public webinar on September 17, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. EDT to present an overview of the material in the Tier 1 EIS Alternatives Report and provide an opportunity for questions. More details on the webinar are available on the Public Meetings page of this website.
FRA Defines "No Action Alternative" for NEC FUTURE
The FRA has completed development of the No Action Alternative for the NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, as described in the No Action Alternative Report. The FRA will use the No Action Alternative as a baseline for comparing the effects of each of three Action Alternatives.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that the lead federal agency define a No Action Alternative, or the conditions that will exist in an analysis year if a proposed action is not implemented. For the Tier 1 EIS, the FRA has defined the No Action Alternative as the condition of the Northeast region’s multi-modal transportation system in 2040.
For this Tier 1 EIS, the No Action Alternative is not a “do nothing” alternative. Instead, it assumes that sufficient capital investment is available to keep the NEC’s systems and infrastructure functioning properly to support existing service levels. Transportation projects included in the No Action Alternative generally fall into one of the following three categories: 1) funded projects or projects with approved funding plans (e.g., federal or state committed funding); 2) funded or unfunded mandates; and 3) unfunded projects necessary to keep the railroad running. The No Action Alternative represents a “snapshot in time” based on current information.
Beyond specific named projects, the No Action Alternative assumes that individual railroad operators will continue to maintain the NEC through their annual capital investment programs. It also assumes some additional level of investment, beyond currently expected funding levels, as required for normal replacement of track, signals and communications, structures, and electrical infrastructure as well as funded fleet replacement or expansion programs. This includes some—but only a modest proportion—of the significant backlog of work associated with bringing the NEC to a state of good repair.