Environmental Impact Assessment of Rail Infrastructure

UIC Project Information

NuRail Project IDNURail2012-UIC-R06
Project TitleEnvironmental Impact Assessment of Rail Infrastructure
UniversityUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
Project ManagerSchlickman
Principal InvestigatorSchlickman, Ai
PI Contact InformationPhone: (312) 355-3656 Email: sschlick@uic.edu
Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)$99,540 UIC UTC and in-kind match; $99,540 USDOT RITA
Total Project Cost$199,080
Agency ID or Contract NumberDTRT12-G-UTC18 (Grant 1)
Start Date2012-05-16
End Date2013-12-13
Brief Description of Research ProjectThis research proposes to integrate spatial analysis, risk assessment, and life cycle assessment in evaluating the environmental impacts of rail infrastructure in Illinois. It aims to develop an integrated and searchable database that can facilitate rail system management, stakeholder participation, and environmental protection with more accurate and accessible information at a refined geographic scale. This research will review existing and evolving datasets developed both at the national level (such as National Atlas for Sustainability, Transportation for Communities - Advancing Projects through Partnerships (TCAPP), and TRI) and at the state and local levels (such as the Illinois Department of Transportation Cultural Resources Surveys, Illinois Natural History Survey, and Illinois State Water Survey). To be built into a Geographic Information System (GIS), the background data will include (1) rail facilities as well as other modes of transportation infrastructure; (2) social and economic conditions; (3) ecological habitat; and (4) cultural resources in Illinois. Based on risk assessment and modeling, this research will identify the sensitive areas and population for: (1) interruptions to ecological systems due to rail system expansion and maintenance; (2) waste management due to rail infrastructure upgrade and abandonment; (3) natural hazards and emergency incidences through rail operations; and (4) pollution emissions through the life cycle of rail systems. As an advancement to existing GIS database development in transportation studies, this research aims to integrate the life cycle impacts of rail transportation, including rail car and parts manufacture, rail construction, rail travel and operation, rail car maintenance, and rail car disposal and rail abandonment. It will also include a pilot project that will enable a web-based searchable function, so that the integrated database can be accessible to transportation planners, researchers, and general public, rather than exclusively to GIS experts. While this research is limited to the scope of Illinois, the generic framework may be replicable in other regions.
Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented)
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated)
Web Links
Project Website
Final ReportNURail2012-UIC-R06_Environment_GIS_NURail_Final_Report_NING_AI1.pdf