I-81 Freight Rail Study and Norfolk Southern Cresent Corridor compared and contrasted in new paper for CTB
Because both are rail intermodal efforts
affecting the I-81 Corridor, there has been public confusion over
what these two projects are and how they differ. In a new paper
prepared for the Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting in Roanoke
on November 7, RAIL Solution details the differences and highlights
some curious ways the new NS direction departs from the vision of
its own CEO, Wick Moorman (2nd item below).
"I-81 Crescent Corridor" Initiative
RAIL Solution has been asked our views on
Norfolk Southern's recently announced "I-81 Crescent Corridor"
initiative. To understand its significance, one has to separate what's
old from what's new.
Norfolk Southern President, Chairman, and
CEO Charles "Wick" Moorman made a major address at Hotel
Roanoke, which he called a "coming out party" for the
railroad's I-81 strategy.
A Multi-State Plan Needs Multi-State Involvement
Solution is reaching out to Tennesseans,
Pennsylvanians, Marylanders, and
“Our neighbors need to know
that the H-1581 process offers opportunity
for significant transport- ation
improvements at less cost to taxpayers,
highway users and our environment
up and down the I-81 Corridor. These
citizens need to be pressing their
transportation planners to gain
access to the intermodal rail planning
RAIL Solution Exec. Dir.
How did a STAR contractor come to enjoy
such a privileged position in state transportation decision making? See
Story Behind the Truckway Proposal. Also, learn about the
dangerous results of the relatively new Public
Private Transportation Act (PPTA) process in Virginia which puts private
companies at the helm of public transportation projects.
EIS Public hearings. Despite cozy relationships between VDOT
and the construction consortium — the EIS must
provide public involvement in the course of its investigation. Citizens
had an opportunity to make their views known at 6 public hearings along
After the public hearings, the Tier 1 EIS is expected to be finalized
sometime in the summer of 2006. Comments on errors and shortcomings
in the DEIS, brought to light in public comments and hearings, must be
addressed in moving to the final EIS. Only
a court action or gubernatorial or legislative intervention could change
the implementation of the EIS after it has been finalized.
|The primary purpose
of an environmental impact statement is to serve as an action-forcing
device to insure that the policies and goals defined in the Act are
infused into the ongoing programs and actions of the Federal Government.
It shall provide full and fair discussion of significant environmental
impacts and shall inform decisionmakers and the public of the reasonable
alternatives which would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or enhance
the quality of the human environment. [14. 40
A full and fair discussion did
not take place in this case. The most viable rail alternative,
and the only one on a scale to be evaluated as a true alternative to massive
highway widening, was rejected. No benefits were weighed from rail's
5-to-1 better energy efficiency or 3-to-1 lower emissions per ton mile
of freight hauled. Public benefits from far lower disruption of adjacent
businesses and need for land never entered the picture.
|The draft statement must fulfill
and satisfy to the fullest extent possible the requirements established
for final statements in section 102(2)(C) of the Act. If a draft
statement is so inadequate as to preclude meaningful analysis, the
agency shall prepare and circulate a revised draft of the appropriate
portion. [15. 40 CFR 1502.9(a)]
RAIL Solution contends that the
incident DEIS is woefully inadequate in its treatment of rail
alternatives for transportation capacity addition in the I-81 Corridor.
The public has been deprived of the better performance, both environmentally
and economically, of rail, and has been offered instead an unnecessarily
vast highway expansion project. FHWA should direct that VDOT redo
the DEIS, this time taking full account of rail and evaluating the rail
alternative with the same level of detail as the many highway options
Areas that won't get a Tier 2 study: Another problem
is that the Tier 1 DEIS has determined that some parts of the corridor
don’t require a closer look in a Tier 2 study. VDOT and STAR
plan to begin
construction on the section between
Staunton and Lexington as soon as the Tier 1 EIS is approved.
That could mean as early as this summer.
not wait to voice their opinions!
Federal and state
highway website links:
- I-81 Tier 1 Draft EIS documents - From here you can download
various sections of the Tier 1 I-81 DEIS
Highway Administration (FHWA) - this is FHWA's site that relates
NEPA to highway planning; includes FHWA's own rules and guidelines for
Regulations for NEPA: Application to Highway Projects
Dept. of Transportation - Section 4(f) - although this is sponsored
by Maryland DOT, it has very helpful information on section 4(f) and NEPA
net - Council on Environmental Quality - the group concerned
with NEPA implementation
Task Force - Council on Environmental Quality - the group concerned
with NEPA implementation
June 7th at 10am
CSX's Innovative I-95 Corridor Proposal
Rail: Perpetually Underfunded
Tier 1 EIS
-Overview of DEIS.
-VDOT I-81 Site
-Write to VDOT>
-EIS Process Overview
-Letters to Editor
RAIL Solution's I-81 Transportation Issues & Priorities
Maximize Rail/ Minimize Road Expansion
-VA Gen. Assembly
-Analysis & Reports