An environmental assessment will be conducted to study the impacts of relocating segments of the CSX railroad out of significant population growth areas along the environmentally sensitive Mississippi Gulf Coast. The environmental assessment project, which is to be jointly managed by the Mississippi DOT and FHWA, will make broad use of remote sensing and geospatial technologies. The project has been awarded and will be supported by the technical and research resources of the National Consortium on Remote Sensing in Transportation (www.ncrst.org). The National Consortia on Remote Sensing in Transportation (NCRST) comprises four university research consortia sponsored by the US DOT. The consortia conducts research to improve our understanding about how remote sensing and geospatial technologies can provide planners, managers, engineers, and analysts with information resources that can be used to improve multimodal transportation planning, design, operation, and maintenance efforts. Consortia activities also are focused on conducting technical outreach with transportation agencies and organizations to demonstrate how remote sensing and geospatial technologies can be effectively implemented and to improve understanding of where additional research, outreach, and training activities are most needed. The environmental assessment component of the consortia works with new sources of high resolution data to provide improved information for evaluating options, assessing environmental conditions, screening sensitive areas, optimizing potential alignments, and conducting preliminary planning and design. Research activities have shown that if appropriate remote sensing data are collected early in the project life cycle the benefits of the data include: • Enhancing transportation planning; • Improving early design processes; • Improving the ability to develop and provide informational materials for public access; and • Better communication and demonstration of benefits of planned transportation service improvements.

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