Smart, Long-term Planning with Significant Public Engagement
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If the nation is investing billions of public dollars in high-speed and intercity passenger rail, the public and the private sector must have a voice. State departments of transportation are reaching out to local governments, chambers of commerce, advocacy groups, environmentalists, and regular private citizens and inviting them to come to the table.
A critical piece of work being done under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act is to develop a state freight and passenger rail plan that will guide current and future efforts.
- To this end, Missouri has issued an on-line survey to garner public opinion on passenger rail, which will help inform the development of their state rail plan.
- In November 2010, New York’s Department of Transportation completed a series of public outreach open houses and scoping meetings on bringing high-speed rail to the Empire corridor. Meetings were held in Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, Albany, and New York City, as well as virtual meetings hosted on the state’s website. The public response was overwhelmingly positive and a compilation of public comments is expected soon.
- Colorado is developing a plan to ensure that the state implements a more efficient and effective approach to passenger and freight rail that will integrate these modes into a larger multi-modal and intermodal framework. The plan will cover 30 years. In addition, they are examining the feasibility of high-speed rail service along the I-25 and I-70 corridors from the Denver International Airport to the Eagle County airport.
Early in 2011, a project to identify how high-speed rail service could connect with Denver’s expanding passenger rail system will be put out to bid and work will begin with a completion date of mid-2012.
- Delaware and Maryland are studying a plan to provide new passenger rail service to connect the Northeast corridor with coastal communities from Lewes, Delaware, to Ocean City, Maryland, a critical tourism area. Planning work is expected to begin in February 2011 on two phases: the first to develop a service plan based on potential ridership and estimated capital and operating costs for intercity passenger rail service. The second phase will include an environmental analysis, preliminary design, and engineering cost estimates, which will prepare the projection for a decision to proceed into preliminary engineering. The work is expected to be completed by December 2012.
- Arizona's Department of Transportation (ADOT) is completing an alternatives analysis for a regional intercity passenger rail system as well as an environmental analysis to identify an intercity passenger rail alignment between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. ADOT is also completing a State Rail Plan that identifies an intercity passenger rail connection between Phoenix and Tucson as one of the highest priorities for implementing a statewide passenger rail system.