What are the key milestones in the Environmental Review process?
Now that the project is approved – what’s next?
Even after extensive and detailed studies, many items still need to be finalized before construction can begin on a planned project, including:
- Securing state and/or federal funds for the project, if needed
- Completing final design for the project
- Reviewing bids and selecting the contractor to build the project
- Acquiring needed private property and easements that can either be permanent or temporary
- Relocating utilities (water, power, sewer, communications, etc.) so that services will not be interrupted for customers during construction and operation of the project
- Developing agreements for how construction will proceed with the cities involved
- Securing permits from other regulatory agencies, including from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), if the project includes grade crossings
- Educating the public about next steps and how to be safe during construction and operation of the project
What do we have to do before a project is built?
Before a new transportation project is built, policy makers, civic leaders and/or the media often discuss what it could be. However, before a project moves forward, certain studies need to be completed.
These studies are intended to meet state and federal requirements, as well as ensure all relevant issues are explored in shaping the project and allow community members to provide input.
For local and state funded projects, the planning process is governed by the California Environmental Quality Act ( CEQA ) . Projects that seek federal funds also need to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act ( NEPA ) . Both laws (CEQA and NEPA) determine the type and scope of study that is required, including the public participation, to help shape the proposed project.
Issues to be analyzed include how the project might affect traffic, air and water quality, noise, vibration, historical structures, adjacent properties, or other items related to the natural and built environment. Other analyses may evaluate engineering issues, capital and operating costs, station design, etc.
For projects following CEQA guidelines, Metro will usually serve as the “lead agency” and conduct the environmental analysis for bus and rail projects that the agency will own and operate. In some cases, Metro will also conduct the environmental analysis for projects where other agencies are the owner/operator. This could happen for highway projects where the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is the owner operator, or for railroad projects on behalf of Amtrak, Metrolink and the freight railroads.
When Metro is leading the effort and a full environmental document is needed, Metro is tasked to complete an Environmental Impact Report ( EIR ) in accordance with CEQA. If the project seeks federal funding, an Environmental Impact Statement ( EIS ) is completed by the appropriate federal agency, in accordance with NEPA.
There are many steps required with a full environmental review process. During the initial stages, many options, known as “project alternatives,” are presented for public review and feedback. At each subsequent step in the process, the range of alternatives is narrowed based on technical analysis and public feedback. As the evaluation progresses, more detailed studies are completed for the remaining alternatives. The public has opportunities to provide input throughout the effort.
How can I stay informed and involved?
- Get on the project mailing list to receive updates and news
- Monitor information on the project website
- Follow the project’s social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- Attend project-related meetings
- Contact Metro staff working on the project via phone, mail and/or email
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