California High-Speed Train Supplement to the Final EIR/EIS

California High-Speed Rail

Overview:

Soar Environmental staff conducted and oversaw CEQA/NEPA documentation, which resulted in a net savings of millions of dollars, a safer alignment with less traffic, a reduction in sound decibels, improved air quality, a reduction in ecological impacts, and a benefit to recreationalists utilizing the stream.

Project Scope

The contractor proposed to modify the design of the approved High-Speed Train (HST) Project to the east of the approved project alignment along five miles of the corridor based upon advanced technical designs that would massively reduce construction costs through straightening the corridor and reducing the height of overcrossing structures. The proposed eastward shift fell outside the project footprint evaluated in the Final EIR/EIS and therefore required CEQA/NEPA documentation to identify and analyze potential impacts to the additional alternative. Compared to the approved HST alignment described in the Final EIR/EIS, the redesign lowered the HST alignment to at-grade or near at-grade in all locations, reduced elevated track height and shifted the alignment approximately 100-feet to the east of the original San Joaquin River. The Scope of Work included full CEQA/NEPA analysis of all categories. The alignment shift was proposed to encroach into a state-protected environmentally sensitive area at one end and affect sensitive noise receptors on the other. The alignment required shifting a CalTrans ROW, moving a large natural gas pipeline, and DGS land conveyance.

Description of Services

Soar Environmental staff assumed the role of Project Oversight Management and was responsible for providing legally defensible documentation as well as providing analysis for hazardous materials, construction and operational noise/ vibration impacts, sensitive receptors, and traffic. Soar Environmental worked with DGS for land conveyance, and negotiated terms for conveyance within the state preserve, and developed mitigation measures. Soar Environmental staff reviewed all analyses and provided comments and refinements to clarify the CEQA documentation, ensuring the final documents are legally defensible.

Results

Beside monetary savings, the analysis demonstrated the re-alignment would provide a public safety benefit by removing existing at-grade crossings thereby eliminating potential for auto/train collision, improve emergency response time and reduce traffic congestion. Noise protection barriers would benefit SFR communities by reducing overall noise impacts. A straighter alignment means less miles traveled, thus providing a long-term net benefit to air quality. The team demonstrated the new perpendicular design at the river effectively traverses a smaller cross-section of the stream, reducing impacts to riparian areas. Recreational boaters will also benefit as the final in-stream structures are located outside the low-flow channel.

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