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NEC FUTURE

Tier 1 EIS

Tier 1 Final EIS

Volume 2

7.11 Environmental Justice

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Table of Contents

7.11.1 Introduction

Key Resource: Environmental Justice

Executive Order 12898 requires federal agencies to assess the effects of their actions on EJ populations and determine if disproportionately high and adverse effects occur.

Identifies concentrations of minority populations and low-income populations that could benefit or be affected by environmental impacts occurring in their communities.

Identifies effects on resources located within EJ populations.

This chapter provides an overview of the demographic characteristics of the Study Area and identifies potential effects to Environmental Justice (EJ) populations. The demographic characteristics establish a baseline for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to identify minority and low-income populations to support its EJ analysis. The FRA has presented some specific demographic characteristics for context, but this chapter focuses primarily on the identification of and potential effects to EJ populations.

7.11.1.1 Definition of Resources

Executive Order (EO) 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority and Low-Income Populations, requires all federal agencies to "develop an agency-wide environmental justice strategy that identifies and addresses disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations."

Following the direction of EO 12898, federal agencies developed their own strategies to implement EJ. The guidance applicable to the NEC FUTURE program was formed under guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation's (U.S. DOT) Order to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations 5610.2(a) (May 2012).

U.S. DOT Order 5610.2(a) (U.S. DOT 2012) provides the following definitions, which guided this EJ analysis:

Minority Individual: The U.S. Census Bureau classifies a minority individual as belonging to one of the following groups: American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, Black (not of Hispanic Origin) and Hispanic or Latino.

Minority Populations: Any readily identifiable groups of minority persons who live in geographic proximity, and if circumstances warrant, geographically dispersed/transient persons (e.g., migrant workers or Native Americans) who would be similarly affected by a proposed U.S. DOT program, policy, or activity.

Low-income: A person whose household income is at or below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines.1

Low-income Population: Any readily identifiable group of low-income persons who live in geographic proximity, and, if circumstances warrant, geographically dispersed/transient persons (e.g., migrant workers or Native Americans) who would be similarly affected by a proposed U.S. DOT program, policy, or activity.

Project proponents evaluate potential effects to EJ populations in terms of whether the effects have disproportionately high and adverse effects on EJ populations. An adverse effect is a significant individual, cumulative human health, or environmental effect (e.g., the displacement of a household structure or business as a requirement to build a project). A Disproportionately High and Adverse Effect on Minority and Low-income Populations is an adverse effect that:

Is predominately born by a minority population and/or a low-income population, or

Will be suffered by the minority populations and/or low-income population and is appreciably more severe or greater in magnitude than the adverse effect that will be suffered by the non-minority population and/or non-low-income population.

7.11.1.2 Effects-Assessment Methodology

The FRA developed a resource methodology for EJ that includes the methodology for developing demographic profiles and the identification of EJ populations (Appendix E, Section E.11). The effects-assessment methodology further defines the resource and data sources, explains how the Affected Environment was defined and established, and how the potential effects on EJ populations were evaluated and reported.

Appendix E, Section E.11, also includes more information on age distribution, income, auto ownership (relevant to transit dependency), and housing data broken out by county. Appendix A, Mapping Atlas, provides the general locations of EJ populations relative to the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 Draft EIS) Action Alternatives. Table 7.11-1 summarizes key factors associated with the methodology for this EJ analysis.

Table 7.11-1: Effects-Assessment Methodology Summary: Environmental Justice Populations
Resource Affected Environment Type of Assessment Outcome
EJ populations 1-mile-wide swath centered along Representative Route for each Action Alternative Qualitative:
Census tract that meets or exceeds 10 percentage points higher than the total minority or low-income percentage in the corresponding county
Evaluate differences among alternatives with regard to the potential for an Action Alternative to either benefit or adversely affect EJ populations.

Source: NEC FUTURE Environmental Justice Effects-Assessment Methodology, Appendix E, Section E.11, 2014

7.11.2 Resource Overview

This analysis identifies concentrations of EJ populations within the Study Area that coincide with effects identified on resources evaluated in this Tier 1 Draft EIS. Because this Tier 1 Draft EIS represents a high-level of analysis for all resources, identifying potential disproportionate effects on EJ populations is not possible. However, this analysis presents identified benefits to EJ populations and those EJ areas that are most susceptible to having multiple resource areas affected because of implementation of an Action Alternative.

To identify EJ populations, it is important to understand the demographic characteristics of the Study Area. This understanding sets the background for identifying if a minority or low-income population comprises a larger than average portion of the population of a given area.

The Study Area covers eight states plus Washington, D.C., and 124 counties. According to the 2010 census there are approximately 51 million people living in the Study Area. The central region, consisting of New Jersey and New York City, contains almost half of the population in the Study Area, with approximately 23 million people. Approximately 24 million people are employed in the Study Area. Population and employment within the Study Area generally grew at a rate of 21 percent and 27 percent,2 respectively, from 1980 to 2010, and are projected to grow at a rate of approximately 14 percent and 13 percent,3 respectively, from 2010 to 2040. Table 7.11-2 lists additional demographic characteristics for the Study Area.

Table 7.11-2: Demographic Characteristics by Region
Region 2010 Population 2010 Employment Total Housing Units Median Household Income % Households without Vehicles Available (Transit Dependent) % Living Below the Poverty Level % of Labor Force Unemployed
South (D.C., MD, DE, PA) 16,437,274 7,970,000 6,735,000 $69,199 11.2% 9.9% 6.7%
Central (NJ, NY) 22,996,246 10,547,000 9,271,000 $65,615 26.6% 12.3% 7.7%
North (CT, RI, MA) 11,993,380 5,866,000 5,104,000 $65,733 10.4% 10.0% 7.4%
Study Area 51,426,900 24,382,000 21,110,000 $66,791 17.7% 11.0% 7.3%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey; Moody's Analytics U.S. County Forecast, December 2012.

The minority and low-income population totals for all states within the Study Area provide a framework for this Tier 1 Draft EIS EJ analysis. The FRA used these state totals as a benchmark for an overall comparison to the more detailed county level analysis conducted for each Action Alternative presented in Section 7.11.3.1. Approximately 20.1 million persons (39 percent) living in the Study Area are minorities and 5.5 million (11 percent) are low-income. Table 7.11-3 presents the overall minority and low-income composition of each state in the Study Area.

Table 7.11-3: Total Population and Total Minority/Low-Income Populations by Geography
Geography Total Population Total Minority Population % Minority Population Total Low-Income Population % Low-Income Population
D.C. 601,723 392,259 65.2% 101,767 18.5%
MD 5,773,552 2,615,594 45.3% 476,732 8.6%
DE 897,934 311,182 34.7% 93,857 11.0%
PA 12,702,379 2,607,727 20.5% 1,509,858 12.4%
NJ 8,791,894 3,577,016 40.7% 777,968 9.1%
NY 19,378,102 8,073,855 41.7% 2,650,166 14.2%
CT 3,574,097 1,027,835 28.8% 314,306 9.2%
RI 1,052,567 248,882 23.6% 123,396 12.2%
MA 6,547,629 1,562,829 23.9% 658,391 10.5%
TOTAL States 59,319,877 20,417,179 34.4% 6,706,441 11.7%
TOTAL Study Area 51,426,900 20,092,566 39.0% 5,459,173 11.0%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2010 census, U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey; 2010 5-Year Estimates

The No Action and Action Alternatives would affect minority and low-income populations throughout the Study Area. The key findings of the EJ analysis are:

  • Benefits
    • All Action Alternatives improve the transportation network, which decreases travel time and increases service reliability and improved access, frequency, and mobility for the entire population, including EJ populations, throughout the Study Area.
    • Improved mobility provides for greater opportunities to reach jobs that may not currently be accessible for EJ populations living outside of major employment areas.
  • Impacts
    • The No Action Alternative does not realize the same benefits as the Action Alternatives for the entire population, including EJ populations.
    • The FRA reviewed the effects-assessment of seven environmental resource areas in relation to EJ populations: parklands, hazardous materials, historic properties, visual and aesthetic resources, noise, vibration, and potential land conversions that could result in acquisitions and displacements. Through that analysis, the greatest number of potential impacts on those environmental resource areas occur in the following EJ populations:
    • Alternative 1 - Baltimore City, MD, and Fairfield County, CT.
    • Alternative 2 - Philadelphia County, PA; Middlesex County, NJ; Queens County, NY; and Fairfield County, CT.
    • Alternative 3 - Baltimore City and Harford Counties, MD; Philadelphia County, PA; Bronx and Queens Counties, NY; Fairfield and Hartford Counties, CT; Providence County, RI; Worcester County, MA. The FRA identified the greatest number of EJ census tracts in the New York City to Hartford via the Long Island route option of Alternative 3.

7.11.3 Affected Environment

The Affected Environment presents EJ at the census tract level. At this more detailed level, a qualitative assessment can determine the EJ census tracts that could be affected by the Action Alternatives.

Table 7.11-4 identifies EJ populations within the Affected Environment of the existing NEC and each Action Alternative. Also shown are the number of census tracts that meet the EJ thresholds as defined for the presence of minority or low-income populations. Table 7.11-5 presents detailed information by state, for each Action Alternative, on the location of EJ census tracts.

Table 7.11-4: Affected Environment: Total Environmental Justice Populations by Action Alternative
  Total Population Total Minority Population % Minority Population Total Low-Income Population % Low-Income Population Total EJ Census Tracts
Existing NEC 4,412,318 2,381,775 54% 722,863 17% 647
Alternative 1 4,467,580 2,403,860 54% 727,599 17% 652
Alternative 2 4,889,216 2,533,830 52% 765,170 16% 693
Alternative 3 5,913,596-6,542,584 2,911,532-3,357,624 49%-52% 893,764-972,405 16% 787-926
TOTAL Study Area 51,426,900 20,092,566 39% 5,459,173 11% 4,891

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2010 census, U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey; 2010 5-Year Estimates

Table 7.11-5: Affected Environment: Total Environmental Justice Census Tracts by Action Alternative
Geography Existing NEC Alternative 1 Alternative 2 Alternative 3 Study Area
D.C. 18 18 18 18 126
MD 103 106 106 126 638
DE 20 20 22 21 48
PA 108 108 95 138 513
NJ 129 132 132 139 788
NY 151 151 161 176-289 1,791
CT 69 70 107 115-122 258
RI 36 36 41 36-41 65
MA 42 42 42 43-77 431
TOTAL 676 683 724 822-961 4,891

Source: NEC FUTURE team, 2015

7.11.3.1 Existing NEC

New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland contain the most EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment for the existing NEC.

Bronx County, NY (88); Philadelphia County, PA (79); Baltimore City, MD (60); Fairfield County, CT (41); and Suffolk County, MA (40) contain the most EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment for the existing NEC.

7.11.3.2 Alternative 1

Alternative 1 contains a slightly higher overall total number of EJ census tracts, and their distribution is approximately the same, as compared to the existing NEC. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland have the most identified EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment for Alternative 1. However, the following counties have the most EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment for Alternative 1: Bronx County, NY (88); Philadelphia County, PA (79); Baltimore City, MD (63); Fairfield County, CT (42); and Suffolk County, MA (40).

7.11.3.3 Alternative 2

Alternative 2 contains a higher total number of EJ census tracts compared to Alternative 1 and the existing NEC. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania have the most EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment of Alternative 2. However, the following counties contain the most EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment for Alternative 2: Bronx County, NY (86); Philadelphia County, PA (74); Baltimore City, MD (60); Queens County, NY (47); and Fairfield County, CT (43).

7.11.3.4 Alternative 3

To understand the differences in the number of EJ census tracts for the Alternative 3 route options, the FRA separated the total number of EJ census tracts by route option. Table 7.11-6 presents detailed information on the location of EJ census tracts for the Alternative 3 route options by geography.

Table 7.11-6: Affected Environment: Total Environmental Justice Census Tracts for Alternative 3
Geography Existing NEC Alternative 3
D.C. to NYC New York City to Hartford Hartford to Boston
via Central Connecticut via Long Island via Providence via Worcester
D.C. 18 18 - - - -
MD 103 126 - - - -
DE 20 21 - - - -
PA 108 138 - - - -
NJ 129 139 - - - -
NY 151 - 176 289 - -
CT 69 - 101 96 22 24
RI 36 - - - 41 36
MA 42 - - - 43 77
TOTAL 676 442 277 385 106 137

Source: NEC FUTURE team, 2015
- = Not applicable within that alternative/route option.

Washington, D.C., to New York City

Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey contain the most EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment of this portion of Alternative 3 from Washington, D.C., to New York City. Philadelphia County, PA (109); Baltimore City, MD (75); and Middlesex County, NJ (35) contain the most EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment for this portion of Alternative 3 .

New York City to Hartford

Via Central Connecticut

Bronx County, NY (88); Queens County, NY (48); Fairfield County, CT (43); and Hartford County, CT (32) contain the most EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment from New York City to Hartford via Central Connecticut.

Via Long Island

The portion of Alternative 3 from New York City to Hartford via Long Island has 108 more EJ census tracts than the New York to Hartford via Central Connecticut segment. Queens County, NY (142); Bronx County, NY (88); and Fairfield County, CT (42) have the most EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment for this portion of Alternative 3.

Hartford to Boston

Via Providence

Suffolk County, MA (41); Providence County, RI (40); and Hartford County, CT (14) have the most EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment from Hartford to Boston via Providence.

Via Worcester

Suffolk County, MA (45); Providence County, RI (35); and Worcester County, MA (24) contain the most EJ census tracts in the Affected Environment from Hartford to Boston via Worcester.

7.11.4 Environmental Consequences

Table 7.11-7 summarizes the Tier 1 effects analysis for resource areas that the FRA used to determine potential effects to EJ populations. The table also describes each contributing resource and provides additional detail on the interaction between each resource and EJ populations. For the purposes of determining Environmental Consequences, the FRA determined the potential for cumulative effects in EJ census tracts without regard to intensity. This section presents an overview of Environmental Consequences in EJ census tracts for all applicable resources considered for the counties located along each Action Alternative.

Table 7.11-7: Resources Considered for Environmental Justice Assessment
Resource Description of Resource Input to EJ Assessment
Transportation Transportation network and services Present a qualitative discussion on changes in the network and potential benefits and impacts to EJ populations caused by changes in mobility, access, and other service changes.
Economic Effects Identification of foundations of the local economy in the Study Area Present a qualitative discussion on overall economic changes in the region and potential effects to EJ populations caused by changes in access to institutional facilities (e.g., hospitals, schools and social service agencies), increase or decrease in jobs, and available training.
Land Cover Land cover within the Affected Environment Determine where potential acquisitions could result in displacements in developed areas located in EJ census tracts. Specific details on the number of properties and/or structures required are not available for this Tier 1 assessment.
Parklands Publicly owned parklands and parklands receiving funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act within the Affected Environment Determine where parklands located in EJ census tracts are affected. Specific details on the location of parks and gathering locations in communities in EJ areas are not available for this Tier 1 assessment.
Hazardous Wastes and Contaminated Material Sites (HWCM) Known sources and potential suspected sources of contaminated and hazardous materials sites within the Affected Environment Determine if HWCM sites are located along the Action Alternatives in EJ census tracts. State level environmental site investigations were not under the Tier 1 assessment.
Historic Properties Resources listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places within the Affected Environment Determine location of historic properties in EJ census tracts. Specific details on impacts to resources of cultural significance to EJ populations, such as Native American burial grounds, historic churches, and meeting facilities, are not available for this Tier 1 assessment.
Visual and Aesthetic Resources Prominent visual resources and aesthetic qualities within the Affected Environment Determine location of visual and aesthetic impacts in EJ census tracts. Impacts for this Tier 1 assessment were determined only in parklands and open space areas and included specific changes in the visual landscape because of stations, station modifications, and structural elements (i.e., embankments, bridges, parking lots etc.). Specific visual and aesthetic impacts to residents and system users are not available for this Tier 1 assessment.
Noise and Vibration Ambient noise and vibration conditions, and noise-sensitive land cover categories locations within the Affected Environment Determine locations where the Federal Railroad Administration/Federal Transit Administration noise and vibration exceeds thresholds along the Action Alternatives in EJ census tracts. Specific impact ratings for each sensitive receptor are not available for this Tier 1 assessment.
Air Quality (including greenhouse gas emissions) Current attainment status for criteria pollutants established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for air-sheds within the Study Area Determine the locations where air quality impacts or improvements would occur throughout the Study Area.
Safety and Public Health Operational, infrastructure and overall modal safety Present a qualitative discussion on overall safety and public health concerns and mitigation measures for the project.

Source: NEC FUTURE team, 2015

7.11.4.1 No Action Alternative

The FRA did not quantify the effects of the No Action Alternative as part of this analysis as explained in the introduction of Chapter 7. The existing NEC services EJ populations and stations located in EJ census tracts; however, benefits and burdens to EJ populations will be assessed for each individual project as the planned projects included in the No Action Alternatives move forward.

In general, improvements included in the No Action Alternative will not greatly change the services provided along the existing NEC; therefore, benefits to EJ populations will likely be minimal. Likewise, physical improvements included in the No Action Alternative will generally focus within the existing right-of-way, and effects on EJ populations will be negligible. For some larger improvements included in the No Action Alternative that may take place outside of the existing right-of-way, effects could occur. The project sponsor/lead federal agency for each of those actions will determine whether those effects will be disproportionate and adverse.

7.11.4.2 Alternative 1

As shown in Table 7.11-8, Baltimore City, MD, and Fairfield County, CT, have the greatest number of potential environmental resource effects identified within EJ census tracts associated with Alternative 1. These two counties would have environmental impacts in six out of seven of the resource categories the FRA assessed. Baltimore City and Fairfield County both would have potential land cover changes resulting in acquisitions and displacements in developed areas. The FRA identified parkland, visual and aesthetic resources, noise impacts, and historic properties within the Affected Environment of Action Alternative that traverse these counties. In addition to these impacts, Fairfield County contains hazardous materials and contaminated waste sites in EJ census tracts.

Table 7.11-8: Alternative 1 - Summary of Potential Effects in Counties where Environmental Justice Census Tracts Exist
Geography County Parklands Hazardous Materials Historic Properties Visual and Aesthetic Resources Noise Vibrations Land Cover (Acquisitions and Displacements)
D.C.   X   X X X    
MD Prince George's X     X X    
Baltimore City X   X X X X X
Harford X X X X X    
PA Delaware X X X X X    
Philadelphia X X X X X    
NJ Mercer X X X   X    
Middlesex X X X X X    
Union   X X   X    
Essex   X X   X    
Hudson   X X   X   X
NY Queens X X X X X    
Bronx X X X X X    
CT Fairfield X X X X X   X
RI Providence X   X   X    
MA Suffolk X   X X X    

Source: NEC FUTURE team, 2015
Blank Cell = No effects identified for subject resource.

All counties within Alternative 1 that have identified EJ census tracts have potential noise impacts, and most of these counties have historic properties. Baltimore City, MD; Hudson County, NJ; and Fairfield County, CT, have potential acquisitions, which is necessary to accommodate proposed infrastructure. The FRA identified displacements that may also occur within the same three counties where EJ census tracts exist. However, the FRA has not yet identified specific locations of acquisitions and possible displacements. At this time, the FRA has been able to identify only a representative approximation of acreage that may be required for each Action Alternative. Vibration impacts are present only in one county where the FRA identified EJ census tracts (Baltimore City, MD).

The counties with the fewest number of environmental resource impacts in EJ census tracts associated with Alternative 1 are Prince George's County, MD; Union and Essex Counties, NJ; and Providence County, RI. However, environmental resource impacts would occur in these counties. Impacts on parklands, visual and aesthetic resources, and noise-sensitive land cover categories occur in Prince George's County, MD. Impacts to hazardous materials and contaminated waste sites (HMCW), historic properties, and noise-sensitive land cover categories occur in Union and Essex Counties, NJ. Impacts to parklands, historic properties, and noise-sensitive land cover categories occur in Providence County, RI.

7.11.4.3 Alternative 2

The greatest number of potential environmental impacts in EJ census tracts associated with Alternative 2 occurs in Philadelphia County, PA; Middlesex County, NJ; Queens County, NY; and Fairfield County, CT (Table 7.11-9). These four counties have potential environmental resource impacts in all seven environmental resource categories that the FRA assessed. All counties within Alternative 2 that have identified EJ census tracts have the potential to experience noise effects, and most of these counties have identified historic properties. Twelve counties have potential acquisitions and possible displacements, and seven counties have identified vibration effects.

Table 7.11-9: Alternative 2: Summary of Potential Effects in Counties where Environmental Justice Census Tracts Exist
Geography County Parklands Hazardous Materials Historic Properties Visual and Aesthetic Resources Noise Vibration Land Cover (Acquisitions and Displacements
D.C.   X   X X X    
MD Prince George's X     X X    
Baltimore City X   X X X X X
Harford X X X X X   X
PA Philadelphia X X X X X X X
NJ Mercer X X X   X    
Middlesex X X X X X X X
Union   X X   X   X
Essex   X X   X   X
Hudson   X X   X   X
NY Queens X X X X X X X
Bronx X X X X X   X
CT Fairfield X X X X X X X
Hartford   X X X X X X
RI Providence X   X X X X X
MA Suffolk X   X X X    

Source: NEC FUTURE team, 2015
X = Presence of resource; effects would be subject to Tier 2 analysis.
Blank Cell = No effects identified for subject resource.

Prince George's County, MD, has the fewest potential environmental resource impacts within EJ census tracts associated under Alternative 2, with impacts occurring on parklands, historic properties and noise-sensitive land covers

7.11.4.4 Alternative 3

Washington, D.C., to New York City

Baltimore City and Harford Counties, MD, and Philadelphia County, PA (Table 7.11-10) have the greatest potential for environmental resource impacts in EJ census tracts associated with this portion of Alternative 3. These three counties have potential environmental resource impacts in all seven categories. These three counties contain HMCW locations, would require acquisitions and possible displacements, include historic properties and visual and aesthetic resources, and have noise and vibration impacts.

Table 7.11-10: Alternative 3 - Washington, D.C., to New York City: Summary of Potential Impacts in Environmental Justice Census Tracts
Geography County Parklands Hazardous Materials Historic Properties Visual and Aesthetic Resources Noise Vibration Land Cover (Acquisitions and Displacement)
D.C.   X   X X X   X
MD Prince George's X     X X   X
Baltimore City X X X X X X X
Harford X X X X X X X
PA Philadelphia X X X X X X X
NJ Mercer X X X X X   X
Middlesex   X X X X X X
Union X X X X X   X
Essex   X X X X   X
Hudson   X X X X X X

Source: NEC FUTURE team, 2015
X = Presence of resource; effects would be subject to Tier 2 analysis.
Blank Cell = No effects identified for subject resource.

Counties within the Washington, D.C., to New York City portion of Alternative 3 that have identified EJ census tracts have impacts related to noise, acquisitions and displacements, and visual and aesthetic resources. Only five counties have vibration effects (Baltimore City, MD; Harford County, MD; Philadelphia County, PA; Middlesex County, NJ; and Hudson County, NJ) that have identified EJ census tracts.

Prince George's County, MD, has the fewest environmental impacts associated with this segment of Alternative 3. Impacts identified for Prince George's County, MD, include parklands, visual and aesthetic resources, potential acquisitions and displacements, and noise impacts.

New York City to Hartford

Via Central Connecticut

Bronx County, NY, has the most potential environmental impacts in EJ census tracts associated with this option since it is affected in all seven environmental resource categories assessed (Table 7.11-11).

Queens County, NY, has the fewest environmental impacts in EJ census tracts associated with this option. Queens County has impacts to resources in five out of seven environmental categories assessed: noise, vibration, HWCM sites, historic properties and land acquisitions and displacements.

Via Long Island

Queens County, NY, and Fairfield County, CT, have the highest potential for environmental impacts in EJ census tracts associated with this route option. Both counties have potential environmental resource conflicts in all seven environmental resource categories assessed (Table 7.11-11). All counties within Alternative 3 New York City to Hartford via Long Island route option that have identified EJ census tracts have the potential for noise impacts and include identified hazardous materials and historic properties. Queens County, NY, and Fairfield County and Hartford County, CT, have potential vibration effects and land acquisitions and displacements.

Table 7.11-11: Alternative 3 - New York City to Hartford: Summary of Potential Effects in Counties where Environmental Justice Census Tracts Exist
State County Parklands Hazardous Materials Historic Properties Visual and Aesthetic Resources Noise Vibration Land Cover (Acquisitions and Displacement)
via Central Connecticut
NY Queens   X X   X X X
Bronx X X X X X X X
CT Hartford   X X X X X X
via Long Island
NY Queens X X X X X X X
Bronx   X X   X    
CT Fairfield X X X X X X X
Hartford   X X X X X X

Source: NEC FUTURE team, 2015
X = Presence of resource; effects would be subject to Tier 2 analysis.
Blank Cell = No effects identified for subject resource.

Bronx County, NY, has the fewest environmental impacts located in EJ census tracts; impacts occur in three out of seven environmental resource categories.

Hartford to Boston

Via Providence

Providence County, RI, has the highest number of potential environmental impacts in EJ census tracts within this route option since the FRA identified potential impacts in six out of seven environmental resource categories assessed. Hartford County, CT, has the fewest environmental impacts in EJ census tracts for this route option since three out of seven environmental impact categories are the source of potential impacts (Table 7.11-12).

Via Worcester

Hartford County, CT, and Worcester County, MA, have the highest potential environmental impacts in EJ census tracts for this route option because both counties have impacts in five out of seven environmental impact categories assessed. Impacts to EJ census tracts in counties within Alternative 3 Hartford to Boston via Worcester route option include noise, vibration, acquisitions and displacements, and visual and aesthetic resources (Hartford County, CT; Worcester County, MA; and Suffolk County, MA).

Providence County, RI, has the fewest environmental impacts in EJ census tracts for this route option. This county has noise impacts (Table 7.11-12).

Table 7.11-12: Alternative 3 - Hartford to Boston: Summary of Potential Impacts in Environmental Justice Census Tracts
State County Parks Hazardous Materials Historic Properties Visual and Aesthetic Resources Noise Vibration Land Cover (Acquisitions and Displacement)
via Providence
CT Hartford       X X X  
RI Providence X   X X X X X
MA Suffolk   X X X X   X
via Worcester
CT Hartford   X   X X X X
RI Providence         X    
MA Worcester X     X X X X
Suffolk       X X X X

Source: NEC FUTURE team, 2015
X = Presence of resource; effects would be subject to Tier 2 analysis.
Blank Cell = No effects identified for subject resource.

7.11.4.5 Transportation

The FRA analyzed the transportation network to assess the potential for improvements and increased connectivity in the network caused by implementing the project. The Action Alternatives improve the overall transportation network. Increases in passenger rail and commuter rail options and additional station locations result in predicted decreases in automobile, air, and intercity bus travel, which in turn result in an increased share of passenger rail trips. These improvements benefit EJ populations, and additional benefits to EJ populations could include the following:

An expanded transportation network that provides mobility choice

An upgraded passenger and commuter rail network for daily or occasional travel

Improvements in connectivity, frequency, and accessibility, which would result in reliable service

The ridership estimate for the 2040 horizon year shows that the Action Alternatives increase levels of Intercity ridership 74-102 percent compared to the No Action Alternative. This is a potential benefit to EJ populations since these improvements would provide access to an extended network for job, educational, medical, and housing choices. Additionally, network improvements in Hartford, CT, would result in time savings and would encourage rail usage for trips from points south to Connecticut and points north.

7.11.4.6 Economic Effects

Economic analyses for this Tier 1 Draft EIS included the quantification and evaluation of operational costs, direct employment impacts, travel time savings, travel cost, and safety. For low-income and minority populations, the potential increase in employment opportunities via expanded travel options, reduction in overall trip travel time and a decrease in travel cost could be considered as positive effects. Capital investments in transportation improvements often lead to jobs and job training programs for skilled and unskilled workers. The most prevalent concern for EJ populations are travel costs. For this Tier 1 Draft EIS, the FRA estimated study travel costs for 2040. In this year, the cost of passenger rail would be less expensive than automobile ownership and operation for all of the Action Alternatives. However, most low-income households are typically zero-car households and are transit dependent. Bus travel in 2040 would still be the least expensive mode of transportation for all Action Alternatives. In any case, access to multiple modes provides user choice for EJ populations, and station location and access improvements are included throughout the Study Area, resulting in improved network options for all users including EJ populations.

7.11.4.7 Air Quality

Putnam, NY; Washington, Kent, and Providence, RI; and Bristol, MA, met the current federal air quality standards for criteria pollutants before the FRA considered project effects. The FRA determined air quality effects for this Tier 1 study at the regional level and were not specific to a particular EJ census tract. However, air quality effects at this larger level did provide insight into the potential exposure and related health effects to all populations including EJ populations.

The Action Alternatives would reduce criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases (GHG) from roadway vehicles for all Action Alternatives since there would be a decrease in vehicle-miles traveled and associated vehicle emissions. Criteria pollutants and GHGs caused by aircraft travel and buses are expected to decrease under the Action Alternatives because of the potential mode shift from aircraft and bus travel to passenger rail. On the other hand, increased emissions from power plants due to the increased electrical requirements required by the expanded service proposed under the Action Alternatives would result in an increase in emissions of criteria pollutants and GHGs in all states for all Action Alternatives.

However, assuming an existing energy profile, the combined net effect of these transportation changes is a predicted reduction in all criteria pollutant burdens, with the exception of nitrogen oxides under Alternatives 3 (via Central Connecticut/Providence, via Long Island / Providence , and via Long Island/Worcester route options) and sulfur dioxide under all Action Alternatives. When assuming a future energy profile (i.e., accounting for future increases in renewable energy use), the combined net effect of these transportation changes is a predicted reduction in all criteria pollutant burdens, with the exception of sulfur dioxide under all Action Alternatives. The net total of GHGs would decrease under all Action Alternatives regardless of the energy profile (existing or future) assumed.

Construction of the project would result in temporary emissions of criteria pollutants and GHGs associated with construction equipment and activities. Local levels of criteria pollutants and mobile source air toxics could also increase near station locations and parking facilities. These more direct emissions could cause localized effects in EJ census tracts and, more specifically, impacts to children living near power plants, construction zones, and stations and parking facilities. However, EJ populations living near major roadways and airports within the Affected Environment could see a decrease in air pollutants and toxins.

7.11.4.8 Safety and Public Health

The safety analysis for this Tier 1 Draft EIS focuses primarily on modal safety, railroad operational safety, and railroad infrastructure safety and security. From an EJ perspective, the general assessment of safety focuses on the connection to health impacts and train operations near children and other vulnerable populations.

The FRA establishes safety regulations for passenger- and freight-rail operators, which are applicable for the No Action Alternative and the Action Alternatives. These regulations seek to protect the traveling public and those near operational trains.

Chapter 7.19, Public Health, provides a qualitative assessment of the effects of the Action Alternatives on public health. Temporary effects on public health from construction of any Action Alternative are more likely than long-term effects. Temporary effects on public health may result from things such as fugitive dust, construction noise and vibration, or an unexpected encounter of a contaminated site. Specific health-related conditions exacerbated by the construction and operation of an Action Alternative are not anticipated to increase in EJ census tracts such that EJ populations bear a disproportionate burden of health-related impacts.

7.11.5 Context Area

Within the Context Area, the number of EJ census tracts increases significantly simply because the Context Area covers a wider area, encompassing 5 miles centered on the Representative Route for each Action Alternative. However, potential impacts in EJ census tracts could increase depending on shifts in the Representative Route and the location of the environmental resources assessed for potential impacts in EJ census tracts. The number of EJ census tracts in the Context Area ranges 1,790-2,416 for the Action Alternatives.

Table 7.11-13 provides the number of census tracts within the Context Area for the Action Alternatives. New Jersey and New York have the highest number of census tracts within the Context Area of all the Action Alternatives.

Table 7.11-13: Context Area: Total Environmental Justice Census Tracts by Action Alternative
Geography Existing NEC Alternative 1 Alternative 2 Alternative 3
D.C. 93 93 93 93
MD 228 231 231 235
DE 34 34 34 34
PA 249 249 245 249
NJ 345 345 345 360-361
NY 566 566 590 604-1,031
CT 102 102 189 190-202
RI 51 51 51 51
MA 122 122 122 123-173
TOTAL 1,790 1,793 1,900 1,909-2,416

Source: NEC FUTURE team, 2015

7.11.6 Potential Mitigation Strategies

Because the FRA does not identify site-specific adverse effects for EJ populations, proposing potential mitigation strategies is premature. During Tier 2 studies, more analysis to identify site-specific impacts on EJ populations should occur. Mitigation should reflect the needs of the affected EJ communities.

Mitigation examples for resources that may potentially affect EJ communities are provided in the various resource-specific sections of this chapter of this Tier 1 Draft EIS. To potentially avoid or minimize adverse effects on EJ populations, consideration of the findings of this EJ analysis should occur during future phases of project planning and development.

7.11.7 Subsequent Tier 2 Analysis

Specific impacts to EJ populations were not available for the environmental resources assessed for this Tier 1 Draft EIS. However, highlighting the areas where concentrations of EJ populations live and understanding their proximity to potential environmental effects underscores the FRA's commitment to EJ principles. A more detailed analysis of environmental impacts that have the potential to be borne by EJ populations will be conducted during Tier 2 studies. As part of each Tier 2 study, the lead federal agency will ensure compliance with the EO 12898. The lead federal agency for subsequent Tier 2 actions should review the demographic and detailed EJ data used in this analysis, as applicable, and identify necessary updates to the data set in order to fully assess the effects of Tier 2 actions. Tier 2 actions sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) would be subject to the FTA's EJ Circular and suggested EJ methodology.

 

Footnotes

1 Since the NEC FUTURE Study Area includes multiple states, the FRA used the Health and Human Services poverty guidelines to ensure consistency across state boundaries. However, as part of Tier 2 analyses, the Federal Transit Administration approach could be considered for more focused study areas.

2 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey

3 Moody's Analytics U. S. County Forecast, December 2012