Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor Program: Oregon Segment

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) are preparing a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a Corridor Investment Plan (CIP) to evaluate alternatives for improved Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail service along the approximately 130-mile segment of the federally designated Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor (PNWRC) from the Eugene-Springfield urban area to the Washington State line at the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. The 466-mile PNWRC runs between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Eugene-Springfield, Oregon.

FRA and ODOT have selected a tiered environmental process typically used in the development of complex projects, such as CIPs. The tiered decision-making process facilitates a broad-level programmatic decision with a first tier (Tier 1) EIS, followed by more specific decisions through one or more second-tier (Tier 2) evaluations at later dates. This environmental review will help ODOT, the project sponsor, and FRA make decisions that would include selection of the general rail alignment and communities where stations would be located and determining service characteristics, such as the number of daily trips, travel-time objectives, and technologies to be used.

See project sponsor’s webpage for more information: http://www.oregonpassengerrail.org/.

Next Steps

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), FRA signed the Tier 1 Draft EIS on October 3, 2018, and it was published in the Federal Register on October 19, 2018. The Tier 1 Draft EIS analyzed the following alternatives: a No Action Alternative, two Build Alternatives, and an additional Alternative that is a variation of the Build Alternative 2. The Build Alternatives include infrastructure improvements in existing rail corridors and sections of the new rail corridor. They would provide improved passenger rail service to meet future intercity travel demand, improved rail facilities, reduced trip times, and improved connections with regional public transit services.

The Tier 1 Draft EIS will be available for a 60-day public comment period beginning on October 19, 2018, on ODOT’s project website. A copy of the Tier 1 Draft EIS and the appendices is also available on FRA’s eLibrary. ODOT and FRA will host five public meetings, one each in Portland, Oregon City, Albany, Salem, and Eugene in November and December 2018. The dates, times and specific addresses for those meetings will be posted on ODOT's project website.

The Tier 1 Draft EIS does not grant any approvals or authorizations for construction for the project. As FRA continues through the Draft EIS process, the Build Alternatives will continue to be refined as they are evaluated for potential impacts to the human and natural environment, as required by NEPA.

Comments

Written comments on the Tier 1 Draft EIS should be received by December 18, 2018. For detailed instructions on how to submit comments to ODOT via mail, email, or their project website, please visit http://www.oregonpassengerrail.org/.

Comments received outside of the public comment period will be considered in the Tier 1 Draft EIS document as feasible, and all comments received will be included in the administrative record.

FRA Point of Contact

Environmental Review Process Contact:
Lydia Kachadoorian 
Environmental Protection Specialist
Federal Railroad Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
lydia.kachadoorian@dot.gov                               

Media Queries Contact:
Phone: 202-493-6024
Email: FRAPA@dot.gov 

Permitting Dashboard

The U.S. Permitting Dashboard is an online tool for Federal agencies, project sponsors, and interested members of the public to track the Federal government’s environmental review and authorization processes for large or complex infrastructure projects. The Dashboard is part of a government-wide effort to improve coordination, transparency, and accountability. A link to this project’s page on the Dashboard is below.

Permitting Dashboard Link