RALEIGH -Governor Pat McCrory and Secretary of Transportation Nick Tennyson announced that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Southeast Corridor from Richmond to Raleigh (R2R) has been signed by the Federal Railroad Administration, the State of North Carolina, and the Commonwealth of Virginia."This is a significant step toward making high performing rail in the Southeast Corridor a reality," Governor McCrory said. "Rail is a critical component of our 25-Year Transportation Vision that will improve connectivity throughout the state and strengthen our economy." The Raleigh to Richmond project is a critical segment for the Southeast Corridor, which links southeastern states to the vibrant Amtrak Northeast Corridor at Washington, D.C. This will provide great synergy that will result in increased rail ridership throughout. The FEIS document and decision address comments from residents, elected officials, businesses, and agencies throughout the planning process."The Southeast Corridor supports Governor McCrory's 25 year vision as we look to connect North Carolina with the northeast population centers and the growing southeast metropolitan areas and provide an efficient means of travel," said Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson.The signed FEIS is the second of three planning documents that allows the project to move forward for funding. The next steps consist of a Record of Decision (ROD), anticipated later in 2015, and a series of public hearings to be held in North Carolina and Virginia in the spring of 2016."While this important step in the planning process has been cleared, there is still significant work to be done to develop the Southeast Corridor and connect Raleigh directly with Richmond," said Rail Division Director Paul Worley. "We will continue to work with USDOT and the Commonwealth of Virginia to pursue incremental steps towards delivery of this project, such as a service development plan and acquisition of property or access rights with the owning railroad. This and the realization that the project will require a significant investment of funds will require continued perseverance and innovation with potential private partners." "Without a strong passenger rail system, the Southeast's growth will be choked by congestion for a very long time," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "North Carolina, Virginia and the Department of Transportation have worked together to bring us closer to high-speed rail connecting Richmond and Raleigh, and I urge everyone involved to continue pushing this effort forward. High-speed rail in this region is not a luxury but a necessity."