Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Oregon Passenger Rail Wraps First Phase with Final EIS and Record of Decision

No surprise, the Oregon Passenger Rail project selected the existing alignment for improvements.

Selected Alternative uses existing tracks

The Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision was published yesterday. 

Maybe there will be more to say as others comment, but the decision looks reasonable and like the obvious one. It doesn't drill into much detail, reserving that for a second phase, and there is no specific information on sections in Salem that might be double-tracked or other local improvements. It's conceptual rather than a very detailed plan. It also seemed a little brief at only 46pp.

As for timing, even though Environmental Impact Statements are a slow process, it is possible to wonder if they delayed publication a little until Amtrak superfan Joe Biden was inaugurated. The draft EIS came out back in 2018, and it has not seemed like a process, as Environmental Impact Statements go, that was very contentious. 

The publication of it now could position the valley for Federal investment under a large infrastructure package. 

We will see what this really means in practice, if it is aspirational and theoretical, or if it starts to move more quickly into reality.

(It's also not a high-speed rail concept, and if the greater Cascadia corridor, BC to Eugene, got traction, that would be a different project, as I understand it.)

See previous notes on the process here.

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