Phase 2. The state and federal documents that kicked off this second phase, the formal review process, were the Environmental Notification Form/ENF and the federal Notice of Intent/NOI. These documents were filed in November 2008. The Commonwealth issued a scope of work including alternatives to be studied in April 2009. The project team analyzed these alternatives in detail and provided environmental regulators with 5,000 pages of technical data on the impacts of the project, how the service will operate, what the travel time will be, and where the stations will be located.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepared the federal Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) based on this data. The state version of this document, the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), was combined with the DEIS to make public review easier. The DEIS/DEIR was released for public review in late March, 2011. There were two public hearings in the region and 150 written comments were received. The MA Secretary of Environmental Affairs approved the report on June 30, 2011 and outlined information required in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR). The MEPA Certificate directed MassDOT to study only the Stoughton alternative in the FEIR, while the Army Corps has not yet narrowed the range of alternatives.
MassDOT is in the process of completing about a dozen technical memoranda and reports on topics that will be covered in the final environmental documents. These reports focus on updating the operations plan; updating station platform preliminary designs; and technical reports on open space, noise and vibration mitigation, construction staging, water quality, wetland impacts, proposed trestles, at-grade crossings, impacts to historic and archaeological resources, and an expanded analysis of the Whittenton alternative (to the Stoughton route) and the Rapid Bus alternative.
MassDOT has submitted the majority of these draft memos to the Army Corps of Engineers and is awaiting comments. Work will be complete on the outstanding reports as soon as possible. By mid to late fall, MassDOT anticipates finishing work on all of its submittals. The next step will be for the Army Corps to request any final information and to prepare the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (FEIS/FEIR). The Army Corps has indicated it will take several months to prepare the FEIS/FEIR; MassDOT expects final public review of the document will take place in spring 2013. Following the public review, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs is expected to issue a final certificate, completing the MEPA process, and the Corps of Engineers is expected to issue a Record of Decision to complete the NEPA process.