Lack of EIS Delays High-Speed Funding to the Northeast

Reprinted from the Northeast-Midwest Institute
by
Fritz Ohrenschall, Research Associate, Northeast-Midwest Institute

The Administration's "Stimulus Bill" - the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - provides $8 billion for high speed rail.  Unfortunately, the Northeast Rail Corridor faces major hurdles in receiving any of this money because the Federal Railroad Administration has yet to document, as required by law, the environmental impacts of revamping the corridor.
 
Recovery Act rail funding is allocated in two tracks.  Track 1 funds individual projects on a rail line.  Track 2 funds corridor-wide projects that will reduce trip times on that line.  Construction of corridor-wide enhancement on the Northeast Corridor would fall under Track 2 and will require that the Federal Railroad Administration prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement documenting the effects of such enhancements in order to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.  This document must be very comprehensive and it remains to be seen whether it can be completed before the statutory deadline for Recovery Act monies to be spent.
 
Recognizing that Recovery Act funding is critical to the nation's busiest rail corridor, the states along the corridor, as well as the Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility have requested that FRA expedite the impact statement and have volunteered to help with it.  Currently it is unclear whether the FRA can meet this challenge.

Download "Challenges to Northeast Corridor ARRA Funding."