Evaluating the Environmental Impact of the California High-Speed Rail

by Abigail Schantz

Chester and Horvath from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley determined that a life-cycle environmental inventory was necessary to fully understand the pros and cons of the proposed project. The life-cycle environmental inventory reviews emissions resulting from use of this transportation method as well as the environmental costs of building and maintenance. Presently, people traveling in this corridor rely most heavily on automobiles, secondarily on airplanes, and lastly on heavy rail transit. Because we are unable to predict the precise usage of a high-speed rail system, when comparing the environmental impacts of each of these modes of travel, it is critical to take into account differences between low-demand and high-demand scenarios, and to account for an expected initial transition period of low-usage.  Continue reading