An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was prepared under the direction of the FRA in conformance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The EIS evaluated the environmental, social and economic impacts of reasonable and feasible project alternatives for the Portal Bridge. The EIS process began with scoping, where comments and input were sought from the public, stakeholders, members of local, state, and federal agencies, and others on concepts of alternatives to be considered, range of studies, and issues addressed in the Scoping Document. Throughout the scoping process, the FRA sought comment and input on the purpose and need and related goals for the proposed bridge replacement or rehabilitation; the studies conducted; the types of alternatives considered; and any significant project-related issues.
After scoping, the project team worked to address public comments on the Scoping Document while developing concrete alternatives that would be evaluated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The DEIS compared four build alternatives and one No Build alternative. It was published in February 2008 and public comments were received through the end of March 2008. A public hearing was also conducted to solicit public comment on the document.
On October 17, 2008, the Federal Railroad Administration announced the availability of the Final EIS (FEIS) for the Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement Project in the Federal Register. The FEIS expanded upon the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The FEIS included a discussion and analysis of the Preferred Alternative for the proposed project and its environmental impacts. Alternative DS was selected as the Preferred Alternative in the FEIS which also outlined initial mitigation efforts associated with the project recommendation. The FEIS also incorporated and addressed those comments made on the DEIS throughout the comment period.