Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Corridor Investment Plan Project
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in coordination with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), has studied options for providing intercity rail service between the cities of Los Angeles and Indio, CA, for the Coachella Valley–San Gorgonio Pass Corridor Investment Plan Project (Project).
The Project would extend from a western terminus at Los Angeles Union Station to an eastern terminus at Coachella, and consists of two sections:
- Western Section – This section extends between Los Angeles Union Station and Colton and has an approximate distance of 68 miles. This corridor section is planned to utilize existing rail infrastructure owned by BNSF Railway and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
- Eastern Section – This section is approximately 73 miles long between Colton and Indio, and includes a potential extension of approximately 3 miles further east to Coachella. This section is planned to utilize the only existing rail line within this portion of the corridor, the Union Pacific Railroad Yuma Subdivision.
Passenger train frequencies proposed as part of the project will consist of two daily round-trip intercity passenger trains operating the entire length of the corridor between Los Angeles and Indio (or Coachella), with one morning departure and one afternoon departure from each end of the corridor.
The Project is intended to serve a range of purposes for travel between the Coachella Valley and the Los Angeles Basin, including business, social, medial, leisure, and recreational trips. The introduction of intercity passenger rail service connecting the Coachella Valley with the Los Angeles Basin would provide a convenient, reliable, and competitive alternative to automobile, commercial bus, and commercial air travel in the corridor.
Final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report
On June 2, 2022, FRA, in coordination with Caltrans and RCTC, issued a Record of Decision (ROD) and Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (FEIS/EIR) in compliance with federal and state laws, specifically the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Through the combined FEIS/EIR and ROD, FRA identified Build Alternative Option 1 as the Selected Alternative.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Notice of Availability for the Tier 1 FEIS/EIR and ROD in the Federal Register on June 17, 2022. The ROD summarizes strategies and practices appropriate for a Tier 1 FEIS including avoidance, mitigation, minimization, and future design. The ROD also identifies potential next steps in the environmental review process as the Project, subject to available future funding, moves through the subsequent phases of planning, design, and construction. Subsequent phases of the Project will include appropriate involvement from members of the public; stakeholders; local governments; elected officials; non-governmental organizations; Native American Tribes; and federal, state, and local agencies.
- Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report and Record of Decision
- Appendix A – Draft EIS/EIR
- Appendix B – Public Outreach Summary
- Appendix C – Draft EIS/EIR Comments (Part 1)
- Appendix C – Draft EIS/EIR Comments (Part 2)
- Appendix D – Response to Comments
- Appendix E – CEQA Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program
Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report
The joint FRA/Caltrans Tier I Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for the Coachella Valley–San Gorgonio Pass Corridor Investment Plan Project was issued in compliance with federal and state laws, specifically NEPA and CEQA.
FRA is the lead federal agency for the environmental review required by NEPA and related statutes. Considering the broad scope of the corridor and conceptual stage of planning, FRA determined a program-level (Tier 1) EIS to be the appropriate NEPA document classification for the Project.
On October 11, 2016, FRA published a Notice of Intent to prepare a Tier 1 EIS for the Project, which provided a description of the environmental process and scoping details. Project scoping meetings were held in October 2016 to gather comments from key stakeholders and the general public.
The Project’s Tier 1 EIS/EIR and Service Development Plan defined the service mode, operational strategy, and required infrastructure improvements necessary to implement the proposed intercity passenger rail service. Additionally, a program-level environmental evaluation of the proposed service was included in the Tier 1 Draft EIS/EIR.
On May 21, 2021, FRA issued the Draft Tier I EIS/EIR, which delineated project alternatives, resource impacts, and proposed strategies for avoidance, minimization, and mitigation.
Draft EIS/EIR Comments
FRA made the Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR available for public comment over a 45-day period between May 21, 2021 and July 6, 2021. Public agencies and the general public were invited to comment on the scope and content of the environmental information included in the Draft Tier 1/Program EIS/EIR.
Comments received were addressed in FRA’s Tier 1 FEIS/EIR, appendices, and ROD. Under 23 U.S.C. 139(n)(2), no subsequent comment or review periods under NEPA apply to this action; FRA issued a decision in a combined FEIS and ROD on May 13, 2022 as described above.
Additional project information can be found at RCTC’s project website.
The Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR can be accessed via the following links:
- Cover Page
- 00 – Executive Summary
- 01 – Program Purpose and Need
- 02 – Program Alternatives
- 03 – Environmental Analysis, Consequences, and Mitigation
- 3.1 – Introduction to Environmental Analysis
- 3.2 – Land Use and Planning
- 3.3 – Transportation
- 3.4 – Visual Quality and Aesthetic Resources
- 3.5 – Air Quality and Greenhouse Gases
- 3.6 – Noise and Vibration
- 3.7 – Jurisdictional Waters and Wetland Resources
- 3.8 – Biological Resources
- 3.9 – Floodplains, Hydrology, and Water Quality
- 3.10 – Geology, Soils, Seismicity, and Paleontological Resources
- 3.11 – Hazards and Hazardous Materials
- 3.12 – Public Utilities and Energy
- 3.13 – Cultural Resources
- 3.14 – Parklands and Community Services
- 3.15 – Safety and Security
- 3.16 – Socioeconomic and Communities Affected
- 3.17 – Cumulative Effects
- 04 – Environmental Justice
- 05 – Section 4(f) and 6(f) Discussion
- 06 – Other Statutory Considerations
- 07 – Evaluation of Alternatives
- 08 – Public and Agency Outreach
- 09 – References
- 10 – List of Preparers and Persons and Agencies Contacted
Draft EIS/EIR Appendices:
- Appendix A – Notice of Intent
- Appendix B – Land Use and Planning Tech Memo
- Appendix C – Transportation Impact Tech Memo
- Appendix D – Visual Resources Tech Memo
- Appendix E – Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Tech Memo
- Appendix F – Noise and Vibration Tech Memo
- Appendix G – Biological and Wetland Resources Tech Memo
- Appendix H – Cultural, Historic, and Tribal Resources Tech Memo
- Appendix I – Socioeconomics Tech Memo
FRA Point of Contact
Environmental Review Process Contact:
Environmental Protection Specialist
Federal Railroad Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Media Queries Contact:
The U.S. Permitting Dashboard is an online tool for Federal agencies, project sponsors, and interested members of the public to track the Federal government’s environmental review and authorization processes for large or complex infrastructure projects. The Dashboard is part of a government-wide effort to improve coordination, transparency, and accountability. A link to this project’s page on the Dashboard is below.