- Lone Star Regional Rail EIS
Burns & McDonnell led an environmental impact study (EIS) to examine the effects of implementing regional passenger rail in the rapidly growing area along I-35 in central Texas. The Lone Star Rail District had proposed passenger rail along this 120-mile corridor to reduce congestion by millions of car trips per year. The passenger service, known as the LSTAR, would operate on existing Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) freight rail tracks that run along I-35. It would make 32 round trips daily, with more than 16 stations. More than 30 UPRR freight trains that pass through this region daily would be relocated to a new greenfield alignment east of I-35 and outside of the cities throughout the corridor.
Funding for design and construction was anticipated from private sources, as well as federal and state grants. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) was the lead agency, with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) serving as co-lead. Our team led the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to help the Lone Star Rail District, FHWA, TxDOT and other cooperating agencies make informed decisions on behalf of all stakeholders, expedite federal reviews and approvals, identify financing and implementation strategies, and build consensus among the millions of Texans who would be impacted by the project. The team was charged with producing a single EIS for both passenger rail and freight rail in one document, which was a highly unusual request. The schedule for this EIS project was aggressive, pushing for a record of decision from FHWA in three years.
Our team also conducted stakeholder and public engagement throughout the project area as part of the EIS, which encompassed eight counties and two metropolitan planning organizations. Engagement activities included open house meetings, bilingual communication materials, and an online tool for providing information and collecting feedback from stakeholders. It was available during public meetings, and users could also access it from their home computers, smartphones or tablets.
- Record of decision
- Stakeholder and public engagement
- Conceptual engineering
- Agency coordination
- Railroad coordination