TRB Highlights – Rail

by Jason Ross

One of the best highlights from the 91st Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. was the “Riding the NEPA Railroad Workshop” on Sunday.  I usually find the workshops interesting and engaging and this year was no different.  Leading NEPA experts from FRA, FTA and FHWA compared the NEPA processes across all three agencies – something HMMH has experienced firsthand.  HMMH is leading the noise and vibration studies for two of the three highlighted projects including the Desert Xpress high-speed rail line proposed from Victorville, CA to Las Vegas, NV and the California High-Speed Rail Project between Fresno to Merced.

NEPA experts helped to again fill the house for Session 737 on “Expediting Environmental Review: Underlying Causes for Runaway Process”.  This session focused on the growing need to streamline the NEPA process.  Did you know the average time to complete an EIS has been 67 months?!  One project for which HMMH is proud to have conducted the noise and vibration analysis is the Dallas Streetcar EA.  This project resulted in a 14-page EA that was completed in 14 months.  Horst Greczmiel, from the Council on Environmental Quality, presented on recent NEPA trends including the availability of a tool to streamline the public comment and response process.  More information can be found on these recent trends and CEQ recommendations here.

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