Monday, June 22, 2009

Categorical Exclusion

One of the provisions in the newly released transportation bill is a categorical exclusion on environmental impact statements for streetcar projects that operate in existing right of ways. Here is the language:
19 Not later than one year after the date of enactment
20 of this Act, the Secretary shall complete a rulemaking
21 process regarding light rail streetcars that are—
22 (1) located within an existing right-of-way with
23 in the classes of action identified in regulation by
24 the Secretary; and
1 (2) that are categorically excluded from require2
ments for environmental assessments or environ3
mental impact statements pursuant to regulations
4 promulgated by the Council on Environmental Qual5
ity under part 1500 of title 40, Code of Federal
6 Regulations (as in effect on October 1, 2003).
I hate the look and unreadability of legal documents such as this, but I guess it has to be this way. I wonder when we'll start seeing a modified definition of streetcar in existing ROW. Does this mean we'll see more rapid streetcars?

H/T E-Lo


Jarrett at said...

Depends on what you mean by Rapid. To me "Rapid streetcar" is an oxymoron. If you run a streetcar with wide stop spacing for higher speed, it's called "light rail."

See here:

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

More on Rapid Streetcar here...


Kyle said...

This is good news though, it can definitely speed up the entire process. It really doesn't make sense to require an environmental impact statement when the right of way is already present. It can definitely help cities who are notorious for long planning processes (Boston); not that they would build anything besides BRT anyway.

AJ said...

If this passes, you know what thaaaat meaaaans:

Portland wins!

Morgan Wick said...

Blogger should have some sort of code function that turns everything into a fixed-width font or something like that, something that would make the line numbers look nicer. Or maybe the PDFs could be formatted in such a way that when you copy and pasted text it didn't include line numbers and maybe not even forced line breaks. (For example, making the line numbers a separate text element.)

E_LO said...

does that trickle down to CEQA at all?

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I forgot to give you a HT E Lo. You're the one that found this piece of legislation! That is a really interesting question. I have no idea what the answer would be to that. Though, even if they only have to go through CEQA, not going through NEPA is one less step.

Jonlin said...

I don't like it. In a lot of places that you would put a streetcar, there isn't ROW other than streets, so you have to put it there. Which is not a bad thing, as streetcars have many benefits even when sharing ROW such as attracting more riders and creating TOD. I hope they find away around that rule, or take it out.

Jon said...

well this could also encourage more in-street streetcars as opposed to streetcars in a private right of way which i think are vastly superior.

i'm thinking of the portland-lake oswego line where there are a couple of ridiculous options to have the streetcar run in-street with mixed traffic instead on the private right of way a block over.

also the anacostia line which was originally going to be on a rail line and will now be in-street. not that this was the reason for the change but just sayin'.