High speed rail comment period extended


Raleigh -— Due to the volume of comments received, North Carolina, Virginia and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have extended the comment period on the Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which covers the portion of the Southeast High Speed Rail (SEHSR) corridor between Richmond, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina.

Comments will be accepted on the document until September 10, 2010. The Richmond to Raleigh portion of SEHSR is an integral part of moving forward with the overall Washington, D.C. to Charlotte corridor.

“While we received significant popular support for the project, we also learned a great deal from concerned property owners, business people and community leaders on how to improve the project,” said NCDOT Rail Division Director Patrick Simmons. “These meetings were a great way for us to hear what citizens along the corridor think about our plans.”

Thelma Drake, agency director of DRPT, stated, “This document represents a key step toward implementing high speed rail service on the East Coast. The large public response confirms the importance of this project.”

More than 2,200 people attended the eight public hearings, four in Virginia and four in North Carolina. Citizens had an opportunity to speak face to face with rail officials and make comments for the record.

The deadline was extended from August 30. Comments should be mailed to:

SEHSR Comments
NCDOT Rail Division
1553 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1553

or

SEHSR Comments
Public Information Office, DRPT
600 E. Main St.
Suite 2102
Richmond, VA 23219

The public also can submit their comments electronically through the project web site at www.sehsr.org.

After the comment period ends, the project team will meet to review all of the public and agency comments, and develop a recommendation report. Once the FRA reviews the recommendation report, the Tier II Final Environmental Impact Statement will be completed. Another series of public hearings will be scheduled after the FRA issues the Record of Decision for the project. A Record of Decision for the project means the federal government has granted approval to start acquiring right of way and begin the final detailed design that would lead to construction, subject to funding.

The Richmond to Raleigh portion of the SEHSR would run approximately 162 miles. Existing rail lines and rail rights of way will be used as much as possible. The project will reduce traffic congestion, increase safety along the train corridor and serve long-distance business and leisure travelers between and beyond Virginia and North Carolina.