Chugging forward: FRA releases NEC Comment Summary Report

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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In 2012, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) launched NEC Future, to focus on upgrade possibilities of the critical Northeast Corridor (NEC). On July 28, as the process chugs along, FRA released its Comment Summary Report on the project.

During the comment period, November 2015 to January 2016, the FRA received over 3,200 submissions on the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement from individuals, agencies, and organizations. The submissions were also categorized by stakeholder type. Most (92%) were submitted by individuals. Special interest groups submitted 3% of the submissions, followed by local agencies (2%) and elected officials (1%). All other categories (federal agencies, state agencies, passenger railroads, freight railroads, tribes, and other) accounted for less than 1% of the submissions received. Individuals or organizations in the state of Connecticut submitted more than half (58%) of the submissions.

Many commenters support the visions articulated in either Alternative 1 or 2 (“Maintain” or “Grow”) as the most appropriate level of service, or level of investment, for the NEC. While there was less support for the vision articulated in Alternative 3 (“Transform”), some commenters believe that a world-class rail system capable of high-performance service at 220 mph is essential for the Northeast to remain competitive in the global economy.

Although there was not agreement on any one vision, commenters overwhelmingly agreed that the No Action Alternative is inadequate for the region and should be rejected.

The FRA says it is considering these views as it deliberates on a Preferred Alternative; finding ways to balance the desire for more-frequent, better connections to more markets with concerns about the condition of the existing NEC and the environmental effects of any change. The diversity of opinions leads the FRA to conclude a need for a “balanced approach that is forward-looking but also responsive to local or geographic differences within the Study Area, building from elements of each Action Alternative while focusing on a singular corridor-wide vision.”

You can read the full report HERE.




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