“The Legislature is quick to support waiving CEQA when it comes to a stadium for an NFL or NBA team but silent when it comes to making the process work for the rest of us. SB 787 in no way would have circumvented CEQA or weakened the environmental protections put in place by CEQA. What it would have done is get at the heart of the problem –- projects being delayed or killed for reasons other than environmental concerns.”
The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) just released its long awaited joint Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) documents for the two Central Valley segments: Merced to Fresno and Fresno to Bakersfield.
The two joint environmental documents are very lengthy, both consisting of three Volumes (Report, Technical Appendices, and Alignments and Other Plans) and soon-to-be released Technical Reports (on 12 August 2011).
I doubt anyone has read through much of either document, but you can be sure the CHSRA and its consultant teams will be thoroughly reviewing the possibly hundreds (and maybe even thousands) of formal comments that will be sent before the end of the official Public Comment Period (28 September 2011).
Merced to Fresno Segment
“Merced to Fresno Section Alternatives and Design Options” Figure [1. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Figure S-2: “Merced to Fresno Section Alternatives and Design Options,” S-3.]
Fresno to Bakersfield Segment
“Fresno to Bakersfield Section Project Alternatives” Figure [2. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Figure S-2: “Fresno to Bakersfield Section Project Alternatives” S-4.]
The EIR/EIS Report
The EIR/EIS Report consists of the following[3. California High-Speed Rail Authority.]:
-Chapter 1.0, Project Purpose, Need, and Objectives explains why the project is proposed and provides a history of the planning process.
-Chapter 2.0, Alternatives, describes the proposed Merced to Fresno Section alternatives and design options, HST station options, and heavy maintenance facility options, as well as the No Project Alternative used for purposes of comparison. It contains illustrations and maps and provides a review of construction activities. These first two chapters help the reader understand what is being analyzed in the remainder of the document.
-Chapter 3.0, Affected Environment, Environmental Consequences, and Mitigation Measures is where the reader can find information about the existing transportation, environmental, and social conditions in the area of the proposed project. This chapter provides the findings of the analysis of potential environmental impacts, along with methods to reduce these impacts (called mitigation measures).
-Chapter 4.0, Section 4(f)/Section 6(f) Evaluation summarizes parks, and historic properties in accordance with Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 and Section 6(f) of the Land and Water Conservation Funds Act. It describes avoidance alternatives and measures to minimize harm to these resources.
-Chapter 5.0, Project Costs and Operations, summarizes the estimated capital and operations and maintenance costs for each Merced to Fresno Section alternative evaluated in the Project EIR/EIS, including funding and financial risk.
-Chapter 6.0, CEQA/NEPA Decision Process and Other Considerations, summarizes the project’s significant adverse environmental effects, including those which cannot be avoided if the project is implemented. It also summarizes the significant irreversible environmental changes that would occur as a result of the project or irretrievable commitments of resources or foreclosure of future options.
-Chapter 7.0, Public and Agency Involvement, contains summaries of coordination and outreach activities, with agencies and the general public.
-Chapter 8.0, EIR/EIS Distribution identifies individuals and organizations informed of the availability of the Draft Project EIR/EIS.
-Chapter 9.0, List of Preparers provides the names and responsibilities of the authors of the Draft Project EIR/EIS.
-Chapter 10.0, References/Sources Used in Document Preparation, cites the references and contacts used in writing this document.
-Chapter 11.0, Glossary of Terms, provides a definition of certain terms used in the Project EIR/EIS.
-Chapter 12.0, Index, provides a tool to cross-reference major topics used in the Project EIR/EIS.
-Chapter 13.0, Acronyms and Abbreviations, defines the acronyms and abbreviations used in this document.
[image via SmartPlanet]