The Pennsylvania Project Magnetic Levitation Rail EIS

Client: Maglev Pennsylvania

The Challenge

Chester Engineers was a member of a multi–discipline, multi–firm consortium of planners, engineers, government agencies, and transportation consultants to assist in the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed 50-mile long linear inductance magnetic levitation high–speed rail system linking the Pittsburgh International Airport to the downtown Pittsburgh area and on to two additional cities in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties. The EIS phase was to identify and evaluate the various alternative alignment and preliminary engineering design options and their impacts on the affected communities through which the rail link would pass. This was the final stage in a multi–city selection process by the Federal Railway Administration to select the best city in which to construct this multi–billion dollar national magnetic levitation test center.

Initially, huge manpower resources required for mailings until automated solution Disparate sources of (sometimes outdated and invalid) base data.

The Interdisciplinary Approach

Chester Engineers was extensively involved in analyzing the impacts to significant resources due to the proposed rail link alternatives; identifying the range of alternatives that corresponded to minimal environmental, hydrological, and ecological impacts; interagency coordination; and public involvement.

    The following tasks were performed to satisfy the requisites of the EIS:
  • Identified affected properties along and near proposed alternative route alignments.
  • Prepared and tracked certified “Notice of Intent to Enter” letters to property owners and identified and resolved ownership data conflicts and errors.
  • Prepared digital orthophotos base maps with alignments and placed names superimposed.
  • Provided on–the–fly “what–if?” analyses and composed relevant maps.

The Sustainable Result

As an alternative to mass mailings, Chester found an automated, fully digital solution to the certified mailings, resulting in no actual paper handling in the local office. As parcels were identified as being within the impacted buffers of the alignments, a subset database was generated from the County tax assessor mapping and data to feed the mailings. These were then merged with a digital version of the letters and issued by the US Postal Service. As the letters were delivered, a digital file was updated back to our offices with codes designating delivery status such as RECEIVED, REFUSED, NO SUCH ADDRESS, etc. and used to generate daily updated status maps of the parcels to see at a glance where there may be problems with information distribution. Additional sustainable tasks included generation of public information graphics and mapping with merged orthophoto base information, both large– and small–scale.

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    Project Highlights:
  • Impacted parcel analysis & tracking.
  • Multi–projection, multi–source base and design data (CAD, photo, etc.)
  • Multi–scenario design alternative.
  • Public involvement presentation mapping.
  • Public input tracking (complaint/comment database links to mapping base).
  • Multi–criteria buffer analyses.
  • Fully digital, automated bulk mailing and results tracking.