Obama Administration Fast Tracks NE High Speed Rail Review

Friday, January 13, 2012 - 01:10 PM

From the the White House:

Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a pilot project aimed at expediting the environmental reviews for high-speed passenger rail service in the Northeast Corridor through an innovative and more efficient process.

Through this pilot project, CEQ and DOT will work with stakeholders to identify efficiencies to speed the environmental review process that will inform selection of service types and station locations for high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor.  The pilot will engage Federal, state and local governments and the public in the environmental review process earlier to set benchmarks that maintain rigorous environmental protections and save time and costs by avoiding conflicts and delays in the later steps of rail-project development.

"The Northeast Corridor is the busiest rail corridor in the U.S.,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “Our planned improvements will lead to more jobs, a stronger rail system and a stronger economy.  By bringing all involved parties to the table earlier in the process, we will do the job better and finish it sooner.”  

“The National Environmental Policy Act provides essential protections for American communities and the natural resources our economy depends on,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.  “This pilot project will ensure a collaborative environmental review process for quicker, better-informed decisions for the Northeast Corridor high speed rail project.”

To promote transparency and public input, DOT will post and track project timelines and progress on the Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard at, which launched in November 2011 to track high impact, job-creating infrastructure projects for expedited review.   

 The Transportation Rapid Response Team, a Federal interagency group also launched in November 2011 to speed Federal reviews of transportation projects, will help coordinate the high-speed rail planning process to ensure quick resolution of any interagency conflicts.  


The Northeast Corridor high-speed rail planning project is the fourth project selected by CEQ under its National Environmental Policy Act Pilot program, which focuses on identifying and promoting more efficient ways to do effective environmental reviews that can be replicated.  CEQ will use efficiencies identified for the high-speed rail project to develop best practices for environmental reviews across the Federal Government.

 To learn more about CEQ’s NEPA Pilot Program, visit:


Comments [7]

Sam Abrams

Amtrak on the run from Chicago/Buffalo to NYC has much improved in recent years. We have rode it from Rochester several times recently and it was always on time, smooth riding with friendly efficient staff. Business class is sold out months in advance. That tell you something.

If you are headed for Manhattan, it doesn't take much longer than the airplane, when you figure the security delay and getting in from the airport to the city. And, with senior or AA discounts, it's a lot cheaper than flying and much more comfortable for someone, like me, with an arthritic knee. More leg room and it's easy to take a walk to stretch your legs. Although we bring our own food usually, the food in the club car looks edible, the coffee is good, and the drinks reasonably priced.

I don't know how the rest of the system is faring, but our section is doing great.

Jan. 24 2012 02:18 PM
Phineas T. Gage

Amtrak's High
Speed Rail motto: "We need HSR so we can be later, quicker!"

Jan. 23 2012 02:31 PM
David Nice

We desperately need to think longer term about our transportation, and the the Northeast Corridor improvements fit pretty well in the long term development of our transportation system.

Jan. 19 2012 01:56 PM
Joe M

This project will lose money and cost the tax pay millions in the long run, with this Administration in charge.

Jan. 17 2012 04:53 PM
Phyllis Wilkins

I question Amtrak's ability to operate at very high speeds given their poor performance with maintenance in the Northeast Corridor. Maglev is the technology that should be deployed in the Corridor because it is technically superior and has lower costs for O&M based partly on lower energy costs. The ability to create a surplus with lower O&M will lead to private investment which will be needed to build the system.

Jan. 17 2012 12:06 PM
Jack Kinstlinger

The challenge is to develop a high speed rail system on dedicated alignment separate from the current slow speed steel wheel rail system operated by Amtrak. To exceed 200 MPH in speed, mag lev is likely superior to steel wheel technology in terms of O&M costs.An honest planning effort will evaluate both technologies but I question Amtrak's integrity.

Jan. 16 2012 09:14 PM
Chris M

I would love real high speed rail from Boston to NYC. I would travel more frequently and quit doing things like "renting a car" to go to Boston and back if high speed rail were an option.

Jan. 13 2012 08:00 PM

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