Challenges to analysis of air and rail alternatives in government environmental impact review processes

Amber Woodburn, Megan Ryerson, Mikhail Chester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The current institutional process for project-level environmental review, the government-required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), requires assessment of the proposed project, the no-build alternative, and alternatives to the proposed project. Despite growing academic research to compare the environmental impacts of air and high-speed rail (HSR) infrastructure, there are few instances of multimodal alternatives analysis in airport and HSR EIS documents. In this paper, examples of EISs for air and HSR capacity-enhancement projects are chronicled to identify key challenges to completing modal alternative analysis in the EIS: the spatial heterogeneity of the physical infrastructure for air and HSR, the framing of EIS purpose and need statements, and the complicated interpretations of environmental impact significance thresholds. The paper concludes by proposing strategies to incentivize modal alternative assessments and highlight methods that are needed to perform high-quality comparative analysis to inform decision makers, whether in the context of the EIS or in upstream planning processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number2336
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 12 2013

Fingerprint

Environmental impact
Rails
Air
Airports
Planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

Cite this

Challenges to analysis of air and rail alternatives in government environmental impact review processes. / Woodburn, Amber; Ryerson, Megan; Chester, Mikhail.

In: Transportation Research Record, No. 2336, 12.01.2013, p. 9-17.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{08538c67934443c4a9d2d3ec98291f93,
title = "Challenges to analysis of air and rail alternatives in government environmental impact review processes",
abstract = "The current institutional process for project-level environmental review, the government-required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), requires assessment of the proposed project, the no-build alternative, and alternatives to the proposed project. Despite growing academic research to compare the environmental impacts of air and high-speed rail (HSR) infrastructure, there are few instances of multimodal alternatives analysis in airport and HSR EIS documents. In this paper, examples of EISs for air and HSR capacity-enhancement projects are chronicled to identify key challenges to completing modal alternative analysis in the EIS: the spatial heterogeneity of the physical infrastructure for air and HSR, the framing of EIS purpose and need statements, and the complicated interpretations of environmental impact significance thresholds. The paper concludes by proposing strategies to incentivize modal alternative assessments and highlight methods that are needed to perform high-quality comparative analysis to inform decision makers, whether in the context of the EIS or in upstream planning processes.",
author = "Amber Woodburn and Megan Ryerson and Mikhail Chester",
year = "2013",
month = "1",
day = "12",
doi = "10.3141/2336-02",
language = "English (US)",
pages = "9--17",
journal = "Transportation Research Record",
issn = "0361-1981",
publisher = "US National Research Council",
number = "2336",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Challenges to analysis of air and rail alternatives in government environmental impact review processes

AU - Woodburn, Amber

AU - Ryerson, Megan

AU - Chester, Mikhail

PY - 2013/1/12

Y1 - 2013/1/12

N2 - The current institutional process for project-level environmental review, the government-required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), requires assessment of the proposed project, the no-build alternative, and alternatives to the proposed project. Despite growing academic research to compare the environmental impacts of air and high-speed rail (HSR) infrastructure, there are few instances of multimodal alternatives analysis in airport and HSR EIS documents. In this paper, examples of EISs for air and HSR capacity-enhancement projects are chronicled to identify key challenges to completing modal alternative analysis in the EIS: the spatial heterogeneity of the physical infrastructure for air and HSR, the framing of EIS purpose and need statements, and the complicated interpretations of environmental impact significance thresholds. The paper concludes by proposing strategies to incentivize modal alternative assessments and highlight methods that are needed to perform high-quality comparative analysis to inform decision makers, whether in the context of the EIS or in upstream planning processes.

AB - The current institutional process for project-level environmental review, the government-required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), requires assessment of the proposed project, the no-build alternative, and alternatives to the proposed project. Despite growing academic research to compare the environmental impacts of air and high-speed rail (HSR) infrastructure, there are few instances of multimodal alternatives analysis in airport and HSR EIS documents. In this paper, examples of EISs for air and HSR capacity-enhancement projects are chronicled to identify key challenges to completing modal alternative analysis in the EIS: the spatial heterogeneity of the physical infrastructure for air and HSR, the framing of EIS purpose and need statements, and the complicated interpretations of environmental impact significance thresholds. The paper concludes by proposing strategies to incentivize modal alternative assessments and highlight methods that are needed to perform high-quality comparative analysis to inform decision makers, whether in the context of the EIS or in upstream planning processes.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84883250504&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84883250504&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3141/2336-02

DO - 10.3141/2336-02

M3 - Article

SP - 9

EP - 17

JO - Transportation Research Record

JF - Transportation Research Record

SN - 0361-1981

IS - 2336

ER -