South Coast Rail: Next Steps
Governor Deval Patrick this week joined MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey to announce that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the South Coast Rail project. MassDOT has adopted the Corps’ document as the state-required Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and identified the Stoughton rail alternative as its preferred route for providing the best transportation, environmental and smart growth benefits.
The FEIS/FEIR released today is the culmination of more than five years of coordination among the Patrick Administration, the Corps and 17 other state and federal agencies.
"Residents of the South Coast have been waiting for 20 years for a reliable transit system that connects conveniently to Boston and everything in between",said Governor Patrick. "We are making it happen, and we thank the Army Corps of Engineers and MassDOT for moving us so far forward."
"South Coast Rail will reconnect the cities of Taunton, New Bedford and Fall River to Boston and position the South Coast region for smart growth and sustainability", said Secretary Davey. "Completing the final environmental document is a critical step forward in obtaining the environmental clearances MassDOT and the MBTA need to bring long-awaited commuter rail service to the South Coast."
The FEIS/FEIR outlines the Corps' conclusion that there is no practicable alternative to the Stoughton Electric Alternative with less environmental impact. It notes that MassDOT has complied with the requirements of a Certificate issued by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs on the draft document and confirms the agency's choice of the Stoughton route.
As part of the environmental review process, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office (MEPA) will accept public comments on the FEIS/FEIR until October 26, 2013. MassDOT is sponsoring two public Open Houses to provide information on the FEIR. The MEPA review process will end once the Secretary of Environmental Affairs issues a Final Certificate, which will include any additional requirements for mitigation or avoidance of impacts. The federal process will conclude with the issuance of a Record of Decision (ROD) by the Corps.
Once the state environmental review process is completed, MassDOT can invest in developing the final design plans for the project and can begin to obtain all of the required permits. The MBTA will assume a primary role in final design.
The FEIS/FEIR is available at local libraries throughout the South Coast region and by request from MassDOT. Please visit the South Coast Rail website for a link to the electronic version of the report, an Executive Summary, Guide to the FEIS/FEIR, a project fact sheet, Open Houses information and how to comment on the FEIS/FEIR.