HSR Big Winner in Compromise Stimulus Plan

The House proposed no money for high-speed rail. The Senate proposed $2 billion. So what do they compromise at? $8 billion. Plus Amtrak gets $1.3 billion, which is also more than in either the House or Senate bills.

Highways and urban transit get the amounts in the Senate bill, $27 and $8.4 billion, which is less than the House bill. Since the total for transportation is $46 billion, that leaves about $1.4 billion for airports.

Just where are they going to find $8 billion worth of shovel-ready high-speed rail projects? Not in California, where I doubt they will be ready to begin construction for another couple of years.

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25 thoughts on “HSR Big Winner in Compromise Stimulus Plan

  1. John Thacker

    Word is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to force some of the high-speed rail money to go to a Los Angeles-Las Vegas maglev train proposal.

    “Another couple of years?” I’d say considerably more than that, closer to a decade, if they’re planning to put in all new rail. The environmental impact for that sort of thing would take a while. I know they’ve talked about running at 200 mph on existing rail alongside freight, but I just can’t buy their predictions.

    My understanding is that the Southeast High Speed Rail project estimates are roughly a billion dollars to upgrade and replace track linking the Northeast Corridor from DC through Richmond, Raleigh, and Charlotte. That’s only a 110 mph plan, but the Tier II EIS is nearly done, so they’re probably well in line for the money. (Also, the states have been spending their own money for incremental upgrades, and plenty of studies have suggested that, operationally, the line would actually break even due to lots of reasonable sized metro areas 100 to 500 miles away.)

    The state of Washington has a couple of projects that they can plausibly claim are part of making the Cascades service high-speed rail that have EISes done.

    But for the most part, there’s just not enough projects out there with EISes close to done that could start immediately. This could be a nice stimulus for people who do environmental impact studies, I suppose.

  2. msetty

    As much as I disagree with The Antiplanner, this odd turn of events leaves me just as baffled. It strikes me that they left out money for any other kind of rail, though there are billions of projects that could be kickstarted within the 180-day timeframe if the money was available. Truly bizzarro politics.

  3. msetty

    Now the details of the bill are available at http://www.rules.house.gov/111/LegText/hr1_legtext_cr.pdf.

    According to a recent Open Left blog entry, the details for HSR rail and transit are:

    Transit numbers start on page 226.

    1.5 bn – Competitive grants for all types of transportation, including highways, bridges, and rail

    8.0 bn – High speed rail

    1.3 bn – Amtrak

    6.9 bn – Transit grants

    0.75 bn – Fixed guideway grants

    0.75 bn – Additional capital grants for the federal transit administration to dole out

    Total: 17.7 bn – 19.2 bn

  4. MJ

    The House proposed no money for high-speed rail. The Senate proposed $2 billion. So what do they compromise at? $8 billion

    What ever happened to “fix it first”? Oh yeah, the “usual rules don’t apply”, “we’re in uncharted territory” and so forth. Keep an eye on the ratchet effect over the next couple of years — this stuff ain’t free.

  5. Scott

    The CA HSR proposal is a political feel-good measure that is doomed.

    Cost is underestimated.
    Ridership is extremely overestimated.
    Speed is overestimated.
    Economic benefits are overestimated.
    Private funding is overestimated.
    Public funding is missing.

    http://www.reason.org/ps370/
    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9753
    http://derailhsr.com/

    Shouldn’t spending go to items of high value & usefulness?
    Over 80% of adults drive. Most freeways can use an additional lane in each direction.
    There is plenty of transit for people who want to use that archaic, slow & inconvenient form.

    Hint: for substantial transit coverage, live in an area of over 10,000 ppl/sq.mi. Only about 6 UAs (urban areas) have a core density of that much.

  6. Scott

    You are sadly mistaken.
    Please stop with the ad hominem fallacy.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem)

    If you cannot attack the content, you lose.

    It’s a shame that people like you exist–not even considering facts that don’t adhere to your narrow mindedness & preconceived notions.

    You admit to having a very closed mind.

    How do you think it’s political?
    It’s actually apolitical.
    What is their supposed agenda?
    Making sense & being cost-effective is bad?

    Can you point out errors in their studies? Mudslinging & labeling & such has no place in a proper discussion.

    You have not even attempted to question or refute the points that I made (from my own analysis).

    I take it that you have no clue about how businesses operate, cost-benefit analysis & even economic principles.

  7. Scott

    What does care have to with this? Care is not an issue.

    I just won the debate again, by default.

    Why do you pretend to object when have nothing even remotely solid to offer as a refutation or a counter?

    That all applies to Dan too.

  8. the highwayman

    John Thacker Says:
    Word is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to force some of the high-speed rail money to go to a Los Angeles-Las Vegas maglev train proposal.

    THWM: Simply restoring Amtrak service between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City would be a more practical thing to do along with restoring Coast Daylight service.

    An other idea might be to expand Auto-Train services to other routes, this could even be by just adding autoracks to existing trains.

    JT:“Another couple of years?” I’d say considerably more than that, closer to a decade, if they’re planning to put in all new rail. The environmental impact for that sort of thing would take a while. I know they’ve talked about running at 200 mph on existing rail alongside freight, but I just can’t buy their predictions.

    THWM: Though existing lines can upgraded and electrified, even in France TGV’s aren’t always traveling on high speed lines.

    For that matter electrifing Caltrain, Metrolink, Coaster & ACE operations is a shovel ready project.

    JT:My understanding is that the Southeast High Speed Rail project estimates are roughly a billion dollars to upgrade and replace track linking the Northeast Corridor from DC through Richmond, Raleigh, and Charlotte. That’s only a 110 mph plan, but the Tier II EIS is nearly done, so they’re probably well in line for the money. (Also, the states have been spending their own money for incremental upgrades, and plenty of studies have suggested that, operationally, the line would actually break even due to lots of reasonable sized metro areas 100 to 500 miles away.)

    THWM: Well the NC DOT has been very proactive in recent years.

    JT: The state of Washington has a couple of projects that they can plausibly claim are part of making the Cascades service high-speed rail that have EISes done.

    THWM: Electrifing Sounder’s operations is shovel ready.

    JT: But for the most part, there’s just not enough projects out there with EISes close to done that could start immediately. This could be a nice stimulus for people who do environmental impact studies, I suppose.

    THWM: Though in a lot places there really isn’t a need for an EIS, because you’re just restoring rail service.

  9. Kevyn Miller

    Scott: There is plenty of transit for people who want to use that archaic, slow & inconvenient form.

    Slow and inconvenient? True enough.

    Archaic? Public carriages were only introduced in the early eighteen hundreds, private carriages were in use two millenia or more before that. Both became motorized in the 1880s. Strictly speaking it is private transport that is archaic and public transport that is modern.

    If you meant that the average transit vehicle is antiquated compared with the average auto I must agree with you 100%. Unfortunately the evidence suggests that the average road or highway may be just as antiquted as the average wubway or railroad.

    As for the future, who knows. All we can say for sure is that mankinds advancement has always been dependent discovering “cheaper” energy. Crucially, cheaper isn’t always defined in solely in financial terms. The earliest example was the change from hunter-gatherers to farmers. That change made calories cheaper in the time taken to obtain them. The progression of boat propulsion from oars to sails to engines was a combination of saved time and money. The agricultural revoltion set the scene for the industrial revolution by increasing the amount of food per field to the point that it became possible for a medium sized farm to grow enough grain to feed a donkey or horse and thus allowed horsepower to replace manpower on a significant scale. It also allowed artisans to spend all their time at their art which sped up technological progress.

    What we’ve seen since the the start of the industrial revolution is a progression towards ever cheaper types of fuels. This aspect of increasing energy efficiency has been dominant in the public mind for so long that the idea of having to resort to improved process efficiency is unsettling to many or most people. Since the political minset is only one step removed from the public mindset the outlook appears doubly gloomy.

    Fortunately the reality is that process efficiency has been at least as important as finding cheaper enrgy sources, throughout the whole industrial age so I’m not pessimistic about the limited potential to increase liquid fuels production. I’m just not confident that the auto will reign suprme in the future. Or transit either for that matter. We do live in an age of rapid computing and telecommunications advances. It is conceivable that the whole world will follow in the footsteps of Japanese youth and replace cars with WiFi, cellphones et al, and even using transit a lot less since they can talk with friends and colleagues face to face anywhere anytime. A promise of freedom and mobility that is a giant step up from promise offered by the auto a century ago and the omnibus half a century before that. In fact Stephenon’s Rocket did the same thing two centuries ago.

    Nay, the doomsayers have it all wrong. The new Victorian age will not be the world of Dickens but rather it will be the world of Jules Verne, a world of wonder and awe and great acheivements by great men….(cue orchestra)
    http://mirror.findyourfix.com/Documentary/879_Seven_Wonders_Of_The_Industrial_World_2003/4279_Sewer_King.html

  10. John Thacker

    THWM: Electrifing Sounder’s operations is shovel ready.

    Is it? Certainly electrifying Cascades does not seem to be– I’ve been unable to find a reference to an EIS in the mid-range or long-range plan on WSDOT’s website. Looking through the various EIS plans on Sound Transit’s site, there’s an overall system EIS (1993, updated 2005), but that’s not sufficient (as the document itself notes) for individual projects. There’s an EIS for Everett to Seattle Sounder service, but it specifically refers to diesel service. I must conclude that you’re wrong– electrifying Sounder would require another EIS.

    THWM: Though existing lines can upgraded and electrified, even in France TGV’s aren’t always traveling on high speed lines.

    Certainly. You just can’t reach the speeds promised by the California High Speed Rail Authority by doing so. And that’s why I don’t believe that they can achieve the speeds promised for the promised cost in the promised time. Almost all megaprojects have enormous cost issues, but CA HSR looks worst than most at the onset.

    THWM: For that matter electrifing Caltrain, Metrolink, Coaster & ACE operations is a shovel ready project.

    I think this is correct, at least for Caltrain. There’s a draft EIS from 2004 and public meetings. I haven’t found the final EIS yet, but I suspect it’s done or very nearly so. Caltrain electrification probably could use this money. Hopefully the massive boondoggle of dubious deliverability won’t suck up all available funds for CA, though. Also if you read the EIS, you’ll see that it’s not talking about going to speeds over 90mph even with the electrification (at least initially), so it may not qualify as HSR.

    THWM: Though in a lot places there really isn’t a need for an EIS, because you’re just restoring rail service.

    Hmm. Yet the longest part of the NC DOT EIS (the part requiring a second Tier) is merely restoring rail service to the S line running between Centralia, Virginia and Norlina, North Carolina. That track was abandoned in the early ’80s (or perhaps late ’70s), but restoring it has required a ten-year two-tier EIS.

    Also, note that the Everett-Seattle Sounder service required an EIS, even though it runs along existing BSNF tracks.

    I think you strongly underestimate the agency requirements for EISes under NEPA. Almost note that WA requires a state-level EIS for projects that use state money but no federal monies. North Carolina does not, which is part of why they’ve been more proactive on upgrading the Raleigh-Charlotte portion of their trackage. (Also, the NCRR owns the Raleigh-Charlotte track.)

    I suppose you could argue that restoring previous service without upgrades or restoring abandoned and ripped up track (beyond keeping rails in a state of good repair) would not require an EIS. But is there anywhere where that would be HSR? And does it make sense to restore service that was abandoned for lack of profitability in the first place? Surely for the $8 billion you would want actual upgrades in service, but I don’t see how you do that without an EIS.

  11. John Thacker

    Of course, I grant that the smaller the project, the lower level of EIS is required. Upgrades to existing tracks can be done with short EISes or limited EIAs that take only a couple of years. But replacing abandoned service can take an EIS of up to 10 years, if the track was largely ripped up. That’s part of what the SEHSR experience shows.

    Plenty of people who might otherwise favor the NEPA approach in other areas are really surprised when they learn about how it works.

    In any case, I stand by my statement that there’s far fewer projects that qualify as “shovel-ready” than people think, and I assume that a lot of this $8 billion will not start construction within the next several years.

  12. the highwayman

    John Thacker Says:
    THWM: Electrifing Sounder’s operations is shovel ready.

    Is it? Certainly electrifying Cascades does not seem to be– I’ve been unable to find a reference to an EIS in the mid-range or long-range plan on WSDOT’s website. Looking through the various EIS plans on Sound Transit’s site, there’s an overall system EIS (1993, updated 2005), but that’s not sufficient (as the document itself notes) for individual projects. There’s an EIS for Everett to Seattle Sounder service, but it specifically refers to diesel service. I must conclude that you’re wrong– electrifying Sounder would require another EIS.

    THWM: Installing catanry isn’t a revolutionary thing to do. For that matter there was once even cantenary between Seattle & Tocoma.

    JT: THWM: Though existing lines can upgraded and electrified, even in France TGV’s aren’t always traveling on high speed lines.

    Certainly. You just can’t reach the speeds promised by the California High Speed Rail Authority by doing so. And that’s why I don’t believe that they can achieve the speeds promised for the promised cost in the promised time. Almost all megaprojects have enormous cost issues, but CA HSR looks worst than most at the onset.

    THWM: Well the instate highway system wasn’t built over night as well. HSR isn’t that different in a strange way. That’s why I find the arguments against HSR are so dumb, because they can also be used against freeways.

    JT: THWM: For that matter electrifing Caltrain, Metrolink, Coaster & ACE operations is a shovel ready project.

    I think this is correct, at least for Caltrain. There’s a draft EIS from 2004 and public meetings. I haven’t found the final EIS yet, but I suspect it’s done or very nearly so. Caltrain electrification probably could use this money. Hopefully the massive boondoggle of dubious deliverability won’t suck up all available funds for CA, though. Also if you read the EIS, you’ll see that it’s not talking about going to speeds over 90mph even with the electrification (at least initially), so it may not qualify as HSR.

    THWM: Well there are no HSR lines in Paris, TGV’s use convential track.

    JT: THWM: Though in a lot places there really isn’t a need for an EIS, because you’re just restoring rail service.

    Hmm. Yet the longest part of the NC DOT EIS (the part requiring a second Tier) is merely restoring rail service to the S line running between Centralia, Virginia and Norlina, North Carolina. That track was abandoned in the early ’80s (or perhaps late ’70s), but restoring it has required a ten-year two-tier EIS.

    THWM: Was there an EIS done before the track was removed?

    JT: Also, note that the Everett-Seattle Sounder service required an EIS, even though it runs along existing BSNF tracks.

    I think you strongly underestimate the agency requirements for EISes under NEPA. Almost note that WA requires a state-level EIS for projects that use state money but no federal monies. North Carolina does not, which is part of why they’ve been more proactive on upgrading the Raleigh-Charlotte portion of their trackage. (Also, the NCRR owns the Raleigh-Charlotte track.)

    I suppose you could argue that restoring previous service without upgrades or restoring abandoned and ripped up track (beyond keeping rails in a state of good repair) would not require an EIS. But is there anywhere where that would be HSR? And does it make sense to restore service that was abandoned for lack of profitability in the first place? Surely for the $8 billion you would want actual upgrades in service, but I don’t see how you do that without an EIS.

    THWM: That’s the double standard between roads & railroads.

    The street in front of your house is not ran on a profit or loss basis, railroads should be given the same civil rights as roads.

  13. John Thacker

    That’s the double standard between roads & railroads.

    No. Well, other than the “double standard” of the national highway system being started (and largely, though not totally completed) before the NEPA was passed in 1970.

    Road projects require EISes that last just as long, as a quick view of the EISes on VDOT or NCDOT will show you. The difference is that they have a long existing backlog of completed EISes for projects; some of it is merely to keep the pipeline full, some of it is for projects that were shelved because they were impractical. Of course, to what extent the stimulus money is spent on projects in the latter group, it’s going to be wasteful.

    Yes, part of that is because with much higher turnover and consistent spending on roads, it makes sense to have a full pipeline of projects and EISes being done at all time. If there were a continuing source of rail funds that organizations could count on, there would be a fuller pipeline. While you may call that “discrimination against rail,” it’s really discrimination against any smaller or unusual project in favor of the tried and true. Environmental regulation, like many regulation, favors the status quo. Even when that status quo is roads instead of rail.

    Installing catanry isn’t a revolutionary thing to do. For that matter there was once even cantenary between Seattle & Tacoma.

    Nor is adding a grade-separating interchange to an intersection a revolutionary thing to do, but an EIS is generally required for that. The EIS can be much simpler and shorter, granted, than entirely new right of way; I’m not disagreeing that it’s easier. But study is still required.

    Well the instate highway system wasn’t built over night as well. HSR isn’t that different in a strange way. That’s why I find the arguments against HSR are so dumb, because they can also be used against freeways.

    The Interstate Highway System was built and planned largely pre the NEPA of 1970. (And slowed down considerably since NEPA.) The NEPA was largely passed in backlash to the complaints over the IHS. You’re correct that many of the arguments could be used against the IHS– many of those arguments resulted in the NEPA.

    The Interstate Highway System could not be built today in the cost or time it was built. The NEPA of 1970 causes “lock in” to our one solution, roads over rail. The NEPA makes it easier to maintain the existing system than switch to rail; the original highway backlash is what keeps our policy chained to highways.

    Well there are no HSR lines in Paris, TGV’s use convential track.

    Actually, there is the LGV Interconnection East, which opened in 1994, connecting some of the Paris stations. Before that, yes, they used conventional track, and in some other places TGV trains do travel on conventional lines. But they can’t run at HSR speeds when the track has grade separations, and they can’t run as fast on non LGV track (lignes classiques). So they don’t run at 200 mph without new track. Again, my point stands. The California High Speed Rail speed promises are not feasible without new track, and their proposal assumed that too much existing track and right-of-way would be used. Their proposal is simply not plausible.

  14. John Thacker

    I simply don’t under THWM. It does no good to point out that TGVs do run on conventional track in mixed traffic. I concede that. But surely it’s important that they travel at around 125 mph-138 (200-220 km/hr) on such track. And that’s max speed– sidings, curves, etc. cause the slowdowns that really hit average speed. CA HSR will not meet its projections if it travels over conventional track in mixed traffic to the extent in the proposal.

  15. Lorianne

    We do not need ANY high speed rail at this time.

    We need a hell of a lot more regular speed rail, local and regional. We should be slowly rebuilding our local and regional rail networks, then our inter-regional networks, then transcontinental networks (including links with Canada, Mexico and points south).

    After all that we can begin to think about high speed rail.

    And it needs to be funded locally and regionally as people are convinced of its value… those areas which don’t fund and build more rail will miss out economically, but they’ll eventually catch on that they made a wrong turn.

    This high speed rail craze is just wrong on so many levels. We fell behind the rest of the world in rail transport, but we can’t leapfrog our way to #1 status (ooorah, we’re #1)by building high speed rail to nowhere … for no purpose than to show that we can and prop up our impotent egos.

  16. the highwayman

    John Thacker Says:
    That’s the double standard between roads & railroads.

    No. Well, other than the “double standard” of the national highway system being started (and largely, though not totally completed) before the NEPA was passed in 1970.

    THWM: The double standard is that railroads have to make money while roads don’t have to make money.

    HSR in the USA is some thing that should have started back in the 1960’s.

    JT: Road projects require EISes that last just as long, as a quick view of the EISes on VDOT or NCDOT will show you. The difference is that they have a long existing backlog of completed EISes for projects; some of it is merely to keep the pipeline full, some of it is for projects that were shelved because they were impractical. Of course, to what extent the stimulus money is spent on projects in the latter group, it’s going to be wasteful.

    Yes, part of that is because with much higher turnover and consistent spending on roads, it makes sense to have a full pipeline of projects and EISes being done at all time. If there were a continuing source of rail funds that organizations could count on, there would be a fuller pipeline. While you may call that “discrimination against rail,” it’s really discrimination against any smaller or unusual project in favor of the tried and true. Environmental regulation, like many regulation, favors the status quo. Even when that status quo is roads instead of rail.

    Installing catanry isn’t a revolutionary thing to do. For that matter there was once even cantenary between Seattle & Tacoma.

    Nor is adding a grade-separating interchange to an intersection a revolutionary thing to do, but an EIS is generally required for that. The EIS can be much simpler and shorter, granted, than entirely new right of way; I’m not disagreeing that it’s easier. But study is still required.

    Well the instate highway system wasn’t built over night as well. HSR isn’t that different in a strange way. That’s why I find the arguments against HSR are so dumb, because they can also be used against freeways.

    The Interstate Highway System was built and planned largely pre the NEPA of 1970. (And slowed down considerably since NEPA.) The NEPA was largely passed in backlash to the complaints over the IHS. You’re correct that many of the arguments could be used against the IHS– many of those arguments resulted in the NEPA.

    The Interstate Highway System could not be built today in the cost or time it was built. The NEPA of 1970 causes “lock in” to our one solution, roads over rail. The NEPA makes it easier to maintain the existing system than switch to rail; the original highway backlash is what keeps our policy chained to highways.

    THWM: Well yes & no. Amtrak has been chronically under funded & mismanaged from the get go back in 1971.

    JT: Well there are no HSR lines in Paris, TGV’s use convential track.

    Actually, there is the LGV Interconnection East, which opened in 1994, connecting some of the Paris stations. Before that, yes, they used conventional track, and in some other places TGV trains do travel on conventional lines. But they can’t run at HSR speeds when the track has grade separations, and they can’t run as fast on non LGV track (lignes classiques). So they don’t run at 200 mph without new track. Again, my point stands. The California High Speed Rail speed promises are not feasible without new track, and their proposal assumed that too much existing track and right-of-way would be used. Their proposal is simply not plausible.

    THWM: Thank you for the correction.

    I agree, there is also a lot of basic stuff that is missing too, just the fact that government policy has allowed just over half of our national rail system to be trashed speaks volumes alone.

  17. the highwayman

    Lorianne Says:
    February 16th, 2009 at 2:57 pm
    We do not need ANY high speed rail at this time.

    We need a hell of a lot more regular speed rail, local and regional. We should be slowly rebuilding our local and regional rail networks, then our inter-regional networks, then transcontinental networks (including links with Canada, Mexico and points south).

    After all that we can begin to think about high speed rail.

    THWM: I know where you are coming from, first you have to crawl before you can walk.

    Lorianne:And it needs to be funded locally and regionally as people are convinced of its value… those areas which don’t fund and build more rail will miss out economically, but they’ll eventually catch on that they made a wrong turn.

    This high speed rail craze is just wrong on so many levels. We fell behind the rest of the world in rail transport, but we can’t leapfrog our way to #1 status (ooorah, we’re #1)by building high speed rail to nowhere … for no purpose than to show that we can and prop up our impotent egos.

    THWM: Look at all the mess that has brewed in Honolulu over just trying even “re-establish” a local rail system.

    There are lot of entrenched vested interest groups(big oil, truckers, auto makers, the highway lobby) that fear rail transport and they will stop at almost nothing to prevent people from having it as a transport option!

  18. Lorianne

    Look at all the mess that has brewed in Honolulu over just trying even “re-establish” a local rail system.

    Boy is that ever true. There is a lot of opposition, and not just from the traditional sources you mentioned.

    But that’s OK (sort of) because it looks like Honolulu may have screwed up big time by not starting building rail 15 years ago when they had the chance … and more Federal matching funds. And now, it may or may not come to pass due to funding restraints(rather than opposition).

    Meanwhile, other cities who were not so stupid will reap the benefits having gotten their rail systems up and runnning. IMO they will reap more benefits than they planned on.

    Honolulu will be left behind in the dust. As it should be for making multiple wrong decisions or untimely right decisions, which amounts to the same thing.

  19. Scott

    highman: “There are lot of entrenched vested interest groups(big oil, truckers, auto makers, the highway lobby) that fear rail transport and they will stop at almost nothing to prevent people from having it as a transport option!”

    Now I see part of your misperception. People are not outright against transit. Many people are against massive amounts of their taxes going towards transit that is hardly used. Obviously roads are used by many & are underfunded (<1/4 of transit), partially because transit is given way too much emphasis.

    Double funding for transit?
    Okay, but to make it fair, then road funding should at least be quintupled.

  20. John Thacker

    Here is a summary of research about the impacts of NEPA on highway projects. The average highway project that must go through an EIS takes 4.4 years to complete; if it always requires a Section 404 permit (water quality) the average increases to 5.6 years. That’s after the initial Notice of Intent was filed, and the time until the Record of Decision. Note that additional preliminary engineering is required after the Record of Decision; that’s not the time until construction can begin, which is longer.

    That’s also a median. 13% of projects took in excess of 10 years for the EIS process; another 19% took 7-10 years.

    Categorical Exclusions and Environmental Assessments, possible when there is a less affect on the environmental and there is likely to be a Finding of No Significant Impact, take less time, from 8 to 22 months for CEs, and from 14 months to 3.5 years for EAs/FONSIs. (The former if there is no delay, the later with delays.) These are most of the small projects, like upgrading existing roads.

    This is all for highway projects. The claims that the NEPA process explicitly discriminates against rail is ungrounded in reality. Highway projects do have an advantage, but not because of systematic bias. They have an advantage because a larger volume of projects means that there are more EISes in the pipeline at all times being completed, and there’s always a backlog of projects with completed studies. In additional, since the IHS was largely completed before NEPA (and remained active) fewer projects require full EISes, as much of the work is simple maintenance and upgrades.

  21. the highwayman

    Lorianne Says:

    February 16th, 2009 at 7:33 pm
    Look at all the mess that has brewed in Honolulu over just trying even “re-establish” a local rail system.

    Boy is that ever true. There is a lot of opposition, and not just from the traditional sources you mentioned.

    But that’s OK (sort of) because it looks like Honolulu may have screwed up big time by not starting building rail 15 years ago when they had the chance … and more Federal matching funds. And now, it may or may not come to pass due to funding restraints(rather than opposition).

    Meanwhile, other cities who were not so stupid will reap the benefits having gotten their rail systems up and runnning. IMO they will reap more benefits than they planned on.

    Honolulu will be left behind in the dust. As it should be for making multiple wrong decisions or untimely right decisions, which amounts to the same thing.

    THWM: I don’t doubt what you wrote. The problem is that the USA is pretty much a banana republic, when it comes to things like transport policy.

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