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Public hearings set in region for high speed rail project

SoVaNow.com / June 09, 2010
North Carolina, Virginia and the Federal Railroad Administration have completed a draft environmental statement that is a key step toward implementing high-speed rail service in the two states and the Southeast. The Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Statement covers the portion of the Southeast High Speed Rail (SEHSR) corridor between Richmond, Va., and Raleigh, N.C.

The SEHSR project proposes to implement approximately 162 miles of high-speed rail as part of an overall plan to extend high-speed passenger rail service from the Northeast Corridor (Boston to Washington, D.C.) southward through Virginia to Charlotte, N.C. The Richmond to Raleigh portion includes nearly 100 new bridges/overpasses that, when combined with existing bridges/overpasses, will create a fully grade-separated system to ensure the safety of passengers and train crews, motorists and the surrounding community.

The high-speed rail line is planned to run through La Crosse and Henderson, NC.

“This is a significant step in completing the high-speed rail line from North Carolina to Washington, D.C.” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo. “We are very pleased with the multi-state cooperation and agreements with the freight railroads, which will serve as a model for other states in pushing high-speed rail beyond their borders.”

A series of eight public hearings has been scheduled throughout the corridor during the month of July. These hearings will provide the public an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed designs and the associated environmental impacts. Based on input from the public and regulatory agencies, a recommendation report (recommending a preferred alternative) will be prepared, followed by a Final Environmental Impact Statement and final designs.

Southeast High Speed Rail service would provide business and leisure travelers with an alternate transportation option for trips between 100-500 miles. The planned service would have top speeds of 110 miles per hour with targeted average speeds of 85-87 mph.

North Carolina was recently awarded $520 million in federal recovery funds for improvements that will enable higher track speeds and increased frequencies along the corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte and $25 million for projects to improve reliability of existing service from Raleigh north to Virginia. Virginia was also awarded $75 million in federal recovery funds for improvements to the Richmond to Washington, D.C., part of the corridor.

Dates and locations for area public hearings are listed below. An open house will be held from 5-7 p.m. followed by a formal public hearing at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time:

Hearing for Warren County, N.C. — July 13, 2010

Northside Elementary School, 164 Elementary Avenue, Norlina

Hearing for Brunswick and Mecklenburg Counties, VA — July 15, 2010

Southside VA Community College, Christiana Campus, 109 Campus Drive, Alberta

Hearing for Vance County, N.C. — July 27, 2010

Aycock Elementary School, 305 Carey Chapel Road, Henderson

There are several options to provide comments on the document:

n Sign up at a public hearing to publicly deliver verbal comments. Verbal comments are limited to three minutes per person and groups are requested to provide comments through one spokesperson whenever possible.

n Provide verbal comments privately at a public hearing.

n Provide written comments at a public hearing.

n Provide written comments at any time during the public comment period using the online comment form at http://www.sehsr.org

n Mail written comments at any time during the public comment period 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.

Comments must be received or postmarked by Aug. 30. For more information, visit http://www.sehsr.org





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