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Welcome to the NEC FUTURE Scoping Meetings (August 2012)

Photos of transit related activities

Tonight's Agenda

  • 4:30-7:30 pm: View Displays
    • Introduction and study process
    • Purpose, goals and key issues
    • Alternatives development
    • How to stay involved
  • 5:30 pm: Presentation
  • Comments
    • Public or private comment
    • Comment cards


NEC FUTURE is the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) comprehensive planning process for future rail investment in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), the rail spine that links Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.

  • NEC FUTURE has two major components that will identify and evaluate a full range of alternatives to improve passenger rail service in the Northeast:
    • Service Development Plan (SDP) - defines alternatives for rail service improvements, evaluates their impact on the existing network and operations, and assesses costs and benefits of the proposed plan.
    • Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - addresses the broad environmental effects of the alternatives for the entire corridor.
  • These components form a Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan (PRCIP), in accordance with the guidelines established by the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA). The PRCIP is a foundation for future project development including engineering design, subsequent environmental reviews, environmental permitting and construction.


The NEC, the rail transportation spine of the Northeast region, is a key component of the region's transportation system and vital to its sustained economic growth.

Today, the 457- mile NEC - anchored by Boston's South Station in the north, New York's Pennsylvania Station in the center, and Washington's Union Station in the south - is one of the most heavily traveled rail corridors in the world.

NEC FUTURE Study Area map

What is Scoping?

Cover of scoping document

Learn more in the Scoping Package

  • Scoping is an opportunity for the public to help shape the study process for NEC FUTURE
    • Feedback will help identify reasonable alternatives and potential environmental considerations
  • You may wish to comment on:
    • Study purpose, need and goals
    • Key issues to be considered
    • Potential environmental impacts
    • Alternatives development process
    • Other related issues of interest to you
      • What works well on the NEC today?
      • What needs to be improved?
Scoping chart

NEC FUTURE Process and Timeline

Spring 2012

  • Project Initiation
  • Initial Stakeholder Outreach
  • Data Collection

Summer 2012

  • Define Purpose and Need
  • Scoping (*we are here)

Fall 2012 - Winter 2014

  • Alternatives Development

Winter 2013 - Summer 2014

  • Draft Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement
  • Draft Service Development Plan

Fall 2014 - Spring 2015

  • Final Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement
  • Final Service Development Plan
  • Record of Decision
Timeline graphic

NEPA Environmental Review Process

Street view
  • The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires Federal agencies to consider the environmental consequences of their decisions prior to taking any action
    • Environmental review incorporates compliance with other federal laws, including Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act
  • The key principles of environmental impact assessment are:
    • Full and open disclosure of environmental consequences
    • Interdisciplinary approach
    • Objective consideration of all reasonable alternatives
    • Focus on key issues
    • Measures to avoid or minimize adverse impacts
    • Consultation and coordination among agencies
    • Encouragement of public participation
  • Citizens reviewing maps
    What Types of impacts may be evaluated in the Tier 1 EIS?
    • Transportation effects
    • Air quality, noise, and vibration
    • Energy
    • Land use
    • Communities and socioeconomic conditions
    • Open space, parklands and farmlands
    • Visual and aesthetic effects
    • Contamination and hazardous materials
    • Cultural resources
    • Water and geologic resources
    • Protected species and critical habitats
    • Secondary and cumulative effects

Tier 1 Environmental Review Process

The FRA is complying with NEPA for the NEC FUTURE program by preparing a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

  • A Tiered Approach was selected for NEC FUTURE due to the scope, complexity and long-term nature of this multi-state planning effort
  • A Tier 1 EIS provides a broad evaluation of large-scale programs
  • General (Planning-Level):
    • Service types
    • Alignments Stations
  • Very Conceptual
  • Broad
  • GIS-Based mapping
  • Relies heavily on readily available information
  • Identify likely permits and requirements
Environmental Finding
  • Results in "Finding" for the Preferred Alternative, in this case the selected Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan (PRCIP)

The outcome of the Tier 1 EIS will be the selection of a Preferred Alternative consisting of a program of investments for the NEC

Tier 1 Environmental Review Process

Preparation of the Tier 1 DEIS

The Tier 1 Draft EIS will contain the following elements:

  • Project Purpose and Need
  • Alternatives Considered
  • Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences
  • Potential Measures to Minimize or Mitigate Impacts
Circulation of the Tier 1 DEIS

The Tier 1 Draft EIS will be circulated for public and agency comment.

Selection of a Preferred Alternative*

The FRA will review all comments and select the Preferred Alternative* based on the Tier 1 Draft EIS analysis and public input.

Preparation and Circulation of the Tier 1 FEIS

The Tier 1 Final EIS will present an evaluation of the Preferred Alternative* and include the FRA's response to comments on the Tier 1 Draft EIS.

Preparation of the ROD

After public review of the Tier 1 Final EIS, the FRA will prepare a Record of Decision (ROD) that documents:

  • Selection of the Preferred Alternative*
  • Mitigation strategies
  • Project commitments to be carried out in subsequent environmental reviews

* The Preferred Alternative will consist of a program of investments for the NEC

What is Section 106 Review?
  • Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires the FRA to consider the potential impact of the NEC FUTURE investment program on historic properties
  • NEC FUTURE is following a phased approach to Section 106 consultation, concurrent with the Tier 1 EIS
    • Initiation of Section 106 consultation with State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) across the eight states and the District of Columbia along the NEC
    • Provide Advisory Council on Historic Preservation an opportunity to comment
    • Framework for initiating Section 106 consultation in Tier 1 and completing Section 106 consultation at the project level
  • The Section 106 review includes:
    • Identification of important historic, architectural and archaeological resources
    • Evaluation of significance for the National Register of Historic Places
    • Evaluation of potential impacts
    • Development of measures to avoid and minimize harm to historic properties
    • Extensive consultation with the public, interested organizations, and corridor-wide SHPOs/THPOs

What is the Need for NEC FUTURE?

  • The Northeast faces serious mobility challenges
  • NEC is an economic anchor for the Nation
  • NEC FUTURE is part of a comprehensive transportation solution
The Northeast Region is growing...

From 2010 to 2040...

  • Population +13%
  • Employment +23%
  • Most growth in Northeast is concentrated in the four largest urban areas (among 10 largest US cities).

Largest U.S. Metropolitan Areas (2010)

Largest U.S. Metropolitcan Areas (2010)
Growth affects all modes of travel

From 2010 to 2040...

  • Air passenger demand +122%
  • Highway congestion - worsening metropolitan areas congestion
  • Freight demand +34%
Annual Boardings for "Core Airports" in the NEC (000s)
Airport 2010 2040 Growth
JFK 22,395 64,707 189%
Newark 16,498 34,281 108%
Philadelphia 14,827 30,972 109%
Boston 13,234 24,264 83%
LaGuardia 11,801 16,508 40%
Dulles 11,160 35,676 220%
BWI 10,611 23,321 120%
Reagan National 8,536 11,934 40%
Total Boardings 109,062 241,663 122%
Intercity Travel Demand is also growing...

From 2010 to 2040...

  • Total intercity trips +45%
  • Future mode share shapedby transportation investment decisions

Annual Intercity Travel Volumes Along the NEC

Annual Intercity Travel Volumes Along the NEC

What is the Need for NEC FUTURE?

  • Limited capacity constrains growth
  • Critical chokepoints
  • Aging and obsolete infrastructure
Map of area segments
New England Segments
  • Severe limits on speed and number of trains between NYC and New Haven and between Providence and Boston
  • Aging movable bridges in CT require replacement
  • Limited capacity for commuter and freight growth in RI and MA

New York/New Jersey Segments

  • Limited station and train storage capacity in New York area
  • Need for additional trans Hudson tunnel capacity
  • Speed and capacity constraints at major interlocking: New Rochelle, Harold, Kearny and Newark
  • Severe congestion on rail lines approaching New York
  • Aging signal and rail infrastructure undermines reliability
  • Aging bridges in NY and NJ require replacement
Philadelphia/Washington Segments
  • Limited capacity for commuter and freight growth in MD
  • Aging tunnels and bridges require replacement
  • Electrification system requires modernization
  • Speed and capacity constraints at major interlocking: Trenton, North Philadelphia, Wilmington, Perryville and Washington
  • Terminal capacity constraints at Washington
  • Severe platform and track constraints at Washington, New Carrollton, BWI and Baltimore stations

What is the Need for NEC FUTURE? Why invest in rail?

Transportation networks in the Northeast are constrained and all intercity modes face challenges to meet even existing travel demand.
NEC Rail Network

NEC Rail Network: Aging infrastructure, limited track capacity, critical chokepoints.

Aviation Network

Aviation Network: Congestion at regional airports

Highway Network

Highway Network: Aging infrastructure and heavily congested roadways.

Repairing and upgrading the NEC network will improve reliability and performance and set the stage for future growth
  • NEC repairs & upgrades needed to address long-standing problems
  • Further rail investments needed to meet growing travel demand.
  • Rail can play greater role in meeting future intercity travel demand in Northeast
Repairing the rail Meeting
An investment in rail is part of an overall transportation solution to promote sustainability and economic growth in the Northeast region
People near the rail tracks Transit vehicle going through business area Residential neighborhood
Station location

NEC FUTURE Goals and Objectives

  • Develop an integrated passenger rail solution that complements investments in the region's other modes
  • Provide attractive, high-quality passenger rail service with:
    • Capacity to meet growing demand
    • Bike rack
      Improved connectivity (better timed connections, and access to other modes)
    • Competitive travel times
    • Highly reliable and user-friendly service
    • Safe and secure travel
    • Convenient service at competitive cost
    • Strengthen connections among intercity, regional and local rail passenger and local transit modes.
  • Waterway
    Provide near- and long-term solutions for identified Northeast passenger travel markets
  • Support plans to meet future freight rail demand
  • Reflect funding and financial limits and challenges of upgrading NEC under full operation
  • Reduce environmental impacts and energy use due to projected travel demand growth
  • Encourage private sector involvement in future corridor improvements and operations
    People in a transit station

What key issues should NEC FUTURE address in this region?

Preliminary Study Area - North
Preliminary Study Area - South

Alternatives Development

  • Initial list of alternatives will be based on:
    • Markets - Geography
    • Travel Market Size - Existing and Future
    • Service
    • Infrastructure
  • Many types of rail service:
    • Intercity Rail - Limited-stop passenger service focused on providing connections to multiple cities along a route. Top speed ranges from 79 to 125 mph. Amtrak operates intercity service across the NEC and along connecting corridors to the north, west and south of the NEC.
    • High Speed Rail - Limited-stop intercity passenger service focused on the fastest trip time between major urban centers. Top speed ranges from 125 to 225 mph. Amtrak's Acela trains operate between Washington and Boston at speeds up to 150 mph.
    • Commuter Rail - Local passenger rail service between a major urban center and the communities around it, serving daily passengers commuting to work. There are eight commuter rail services operating on portions of the NEC. Service is most frequent during the peak morning and evening hours.
    • Freight Service - Non-passenger trains serving individual businesses and/or providing through service to major ports and yards. Freight trains in the Northeast haul coal, agricultural products, finished products, automobiles and containers. Five major railroads operate along the NEC.

NEC FUTURE alternatives identified during scoping will be evaluated in a multi-step screening process. Alternatives development and screening (SDP) will advance in parallel with the environmental review process (Tier 1 EIS). Stakeholders, interested parties and the public will have opportunities to review and comment on the process and its findings. The outcome will be a preferred program of investments for the NEC.

Steps in the process


Step Process Public/Agency Review Milestones
Step 1: Course Screening
This screen will reduce the Initial List of Alternatives to a shorter list of Preliminary Alternatives
Develop Purpose & Need/ Goals & Objectives Public/Agency Scoping
Develop INITIAL list of Alternatives
Develop Screen Criteria & Methodology  
Perform Initial Coarse "Fatal Flaw" Screening  
Develop PRELIMINARY List of Alternatives Public/Stakeholder Meetings
Step 2: Fine Screening
This screen will result in a list of Reasonable Alternatives
Perform Detailed Fine Screening Prepare Tier 1 Draft EIS
Develop REASONABLE List of Alternatives Tier 1 Draft EIS Public Hearings
Step 3: Select Preferred Alternative
This screen will further narrow the list of Reasonable Alternatives to a Preferred Alternative, consisting of a program of investments for the NEC.
Perform Final Screen and Select Preferred Alternative Public/Stakeholder Meetings and Preparation of Tier 1 Final EIS / SDP

Stay Involved - Thank You!

Next Steps
  • All comments will be reviewed and summarized in a Scoping Summary to be posted on the project website
  • Further opportunity for participation and comment during the development of the Tier 1 Draft EIS
What you can do
  • Attend and participate in our meetings
  • Visit our website often
  • Sign up for email updates
  • Submit a question or comment by Sept. 14
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