Grand challenges for high-speed rail environmental assessment in the united states

Mikhail Chester, Megan S. Ryerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

The comprehensiveness of environmental assessments of future long-distance travel that include high-speed rail (HSR) are constrained by several methodological, institutional, and knowledge gaps that must and can be addressed. These gaps preclude a robust understanding of the changes in environmental, human health, resource, and climate change impacts that result from the implementation of HSR in the United States. The gaps are also inimical to an understanding of how HSR can be positioned for 21st century sustainability goals. Through a synthesis of environmental studies, the gaps are grouped into five overarching grand challenges. They include a spatial incompatibility between HSR and other long-distance modes that is often ignored, an environmental review process that obviates modal alternatives, siloed interest in particular environmental impacts, a dearth of data on future vehicle and energy sources, and a poor understanding of secondary impacts, particularly in land use. Recommendations are developed for institutional investment in multimodal research, knowledge and method building around several topics. Ultimately, the environmental assessment of HSR should be integrated in assessments that seek to understand the complementary and competitive configurations of transportation services, as well as future accessibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Volume61
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

Keywords

  • Aviation
  • Climate change
  • Energy
  • Environmental assessment
  • High-speed rail

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Management Science and Operations Research

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