Alaska Railroad Corporation-Construction and Operation Exemption-a Rail Line Extension to Port MacKenzie, AK, 34859-34865 [E9-17018]

Download as PDF mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 136 / Friday, July 17, 2009 / Notices The information to be collected for this program is used to determine eligibility for funding and to monitor the grantees’ progress in implementing and completing project activities. The information submitted ensures FTA’s compliance with applicable Federal laws and OMB Circular A–102. The Federal Register Notice with a 60-day comment period soliciting comments was published on April 23, 2009. DATES: Comments must be submitted before August 17, 2009. A comment to OMB is most effective if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sylvia L. Marion, Office of Administration, Office of Management Planning, (202) 366–6680. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title: 49 U.S.C. Section 5317—New Freedom Program. Abstract: 49 U.S.C. 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VerDate Nov<24>2008 19:20 Jul 16, 2009 Jkt 217001 Comments Are Invited on: Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Department, including whether the information will have practical utility; the accuracy of the Department’s estimate of the burden of the proposed information collection; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Issued on: July 14, 2009. Ann M. Linnertz, Associate Administrator for Administration. [FR Doc. E9–17077 Filed 7–16–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–57–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Surface Transportation Board [STB Finance Docket No. 35095] Alaska Railroad Corporation— Construction and Operation Exemption—a Rail Line Extension to Port MacKenzie, AK AGENCY: Lead: Surface Transportation Board. Cooperating: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District; Federal Railroad Administration; and United States Coast Guard. ACTION: Notice of Availability of Final Scope of Study for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). SUMMARY: The Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC or Applicant) petitioned the Surface Transportation Board (Board) pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 10502 for authority to construct and operate a new rail line from MatanuskaSusitna Borough’s (MSB) Port MacKenzie to ARRC’s existing main line between Wasilla and north of Willow, Alaska. The project would involve the construction and operation of approximately 30 to 45 miles of new rail to the main line track. Figure 1 shows ARRC’s existing track and the proposed rail line extension from Port MacKenzie to ARRC’s existing main line (All figures are available for viewing on the Board’s Web site at http://www.stb.dot.gov by going to ‘‘Environmental Matters,’’ then selecting ‘‘Key Cases’’ in the dropdown; and then when the next page appears, clicking ‘‘Alaska Railroad—Port MacKenzie Rail Extension). Because the construction and operation of this project has the potential to result in significant environmental impacts, the Board’s PO 00000 Frm 00150 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 34859 Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA) has determined that the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is appropriate. For further information about the Board’s environmental review process and the EIS, you may also visit a Boardsponsored project Web site at http:// www.stbportmacraileis.com. To help determine the scope of the EIS, and as required by the Board’s regulations at 49 CFR 1105.10(a)(2), SEA published in the Federal Register and mailed to the public on February 12, 2008, the Notice of Availability of Draft Scope of Study for the EIS, Notice of Scoping Meetings, and Request for Comments. SEA also prepared and distributed to the public a fact sheet that introduced ARRC’s Port MacKenzie Rail Extension, announced SEA’s intent to prepare an EIS, requested comments, and gave notice of six public scoping meetings to citizens; elected officials; Federal, state, and local agencies; tribal organizations; and other potentially interested stakeholders. SEA held six public scoping meetings in Knik, Big Lake, Willow, Houston, Wasilla, and Anchorage, Alaska on March 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, and 11, 2008, respectively. The scoping comment period concluded March 21, 2008. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District (USACE); Federal Railroad Administration (FRA); and United States Coast Guard (USGC) requested and were granted cooperating agency status in preparation of the EIS. After review and consideration of all comments received, this notice sets forth the final scope of the EIS. The final scope reflects any changes to the draft scope as a result of the comments, summarizes and addresses the principal environmental concerns raised by the comments, and briefly discusses pertinent issues concerning this project that further clarify the final scope. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Navecky, Section of Environmental Analysis, Surface Transportation Board, 395 E Street, SW., Washington, DC 20423–0001, 202–245–0294, or call SEA’s toll-free number for the project at 1–888–257– 7560. Assistance for the hearing impaired is available through the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1–800–877–8339. The Web site for the Surface Transportation Board is http://www.stb.dot.gov. Serena Sweet, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—P.O. Box 6898, Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK 99506, 907–753– 2819. John Winkle, Passenger Programs Division, Federal Railroad E:\FR\FM\17JYN1.SGM 17JYN1 34860 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 136 / Friday, July 17, 2009 / Notices Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, 202–493–6067. James Helfinstine, Seventeenth District, U.S. Coast Guard, P.O. Box 25517, Juneau, AK 99802–5517, 907–463– 2268. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES Background Port MacKenzie is a deepwater facility on the west side of the Knik Arm in upper Cook Inlet in south-central Alaska. At present, freight truck is the only available surface mode of transportation to and from Port MacKenzie. The Applicant has stated that the proposed rail line would satisfy the need for an additional mode of transportation for the movement of bulk materials, intermodal containers, and other freight to and from Port MacKenzie. The proposed project is consistent with the MSB’s economic development plans and with ARRC’s statutory goal to foster and promote long-term economic growth in the State of Alaska. The project would support the Port’s continued development as a multi-modal and bulk materials export and import facility. ARRC plans to support commercial freight rail service needs with the proposed project. Major elements of the project would include: • Approximately 30 to 45 miles of new railroad track depending on the alternative; • A 200-foot wide right-of-way (ROW); • Crossings (depending on the alternative) of the Little Susitna River, Lake Creek, Goose Creek, Little Willow Creek, Fish Creek, Rogers Creek, Lucile Creek, Little Meadow Creek, and Willow Creek, along with many other small stream crossings; • Crossings of local roads and streets, including grade-separations; • Pipeline, utility, and recreational trail crossings, including the Iditarod National Historic Trail; • Road closures and relocations; • Track sidings along the existing ARRC mainline; • A terminal reserve area (consists of yard sidings, storage areas, and a terminal building to support train maintenance); and • Ancillary railroad support facilities including, but not limited to, communications towers and facilities, maintenance, power, signals, and access road. Environmental Review Process The Board is the lead agency, pursuant to 40 CFR 1501.5. SEA is VerDate Nov<24>2008 19:20 Jul 16, 2009 Jkt 217001 responsible for ensuring that the Board complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321–4335, and related environmental statutes, and for completing the environmental review process. The NEPA review process is intended to assist the Board, the cooperating agencies and the public in identifying and assessing the potential environmental consequences of a proposed action and the reasonable alternative before a decision is made. ICF International is serving as an independent third-party contractor to assist SEA in the environmental review process. SEA is directing and supervising the preparation of the EIS. The USACE, FRA, and USCG are cooperating agencies, pursuant to 40 CFR 1501.6. The Federal agency actions considered in this EIS will include decisions, permits, approvals and funding related to the proposed action. The Board will decide whether to grant authority to ARRC to construct and operate the rail line pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 10901 and 10502. The USACE will decide whether to issue permits pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251–1376, as amended) and/or Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403). The USCG will decide whether to issue authority to construct bridges over navigable waters of the United States pursuant to the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 (49 U.S.C. 1651–1659). The FRA could provide funding to ARRC; however, the FRA would not provide funding for a Board-authorized alternative, if any, that would require the use of resources protected under Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Act (23 CFR 774) if there is a prudent and feasible alternative that does not use Section 4(f) resources, unless the Secretary of Transportation determines that the impacts to the protected resources would be de minimis in accordance with Section 6009(a) of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA–LU) amendment to the Section 4(f) requirements, which do not require avoidance. The EIS should include all of the information necessary for the decisions by the Board and the cooperating agencies. SEA and the cooperating agencies are preparing a Draft EIS for the proposed action. The Draft EIS will address those environmental issues and concerns identified during the scoping process and detailed in this final scope. It will also discuss a reasonable range of PO 00000 Frm 00151 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 alternatives to the proposed action, including a no-action alternative, and recommend environmental mitigation measures, as appropriate. The Draft EIS will be made available upon its completion for public review and comment. A Final EIS will then be prepared reflecting further analysis by SEA and the cooperating agencies and the public and agency comments on the Draft EIS. In reaching their decisions on this case, the Board and the cooperating agencies will take into account the full environmental record, including the DEIS, the Final EIS, and all public and agency comments received. Purpose and Need The Applicant has stated that the purpose of the Port MacKenzie Rail Extension is to establish a rail link between Port MacKenzie (or Port) and the ARRC rail system, providing Port customers and shippers with rail transportation between the Port and Interior Alaska. The Port is a deepwater facility on the west side of Knik Arm in upper Cook Inlet, in south-central Alaska. At present, freight truck is the only available surface mode of transportation to and from the Port. The Applicant has also stated that the proposed rail line would satisfy the need for an additional mode of transportation for the movement of bulk materials, intermodal containers, and other freight to and from the Port. According to ARRC, the proposed project would support ARRC’s statutory goal to foster and promote long-term economic growth and development in the State of Alaska and would be consistent with the Port’s economic development plans, which include the continued development of the Port as a multi-modal and bulk materials export and import facility. Port Activities The proposed rail line extension would end at a terminal reserve (rail yard) approximately 2 or 3 miles, depending on the route, from the existing Port docks. Rail facilities the Port might construct to connect to the rail line extension would be particular to the specific traffic needs and would be expected to be generally consistent with Port master planning documents. These facilities might include buildings, roads, industrial spurs, sidings, loading/ unloading tracks, and other ancillary facilities throughout the upland port district. These facilities would be developed as the Port continued to grow, but would be independent of the planned rail extension. At present, the MSB is developing a bulk materials facility at the Port to accommodate the E:\FR\FM\17JYN1.SGM 17JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 136 / Friday, July 17, 2009 / Notices need for expansion of Port facilities to handle bulk material cargo to be transported to the Port by truck, independent of the planned rail line extension to the Port. The MSB has stated that as it continues to plan for the bulk materials facility and future Port development, it will consider the location of ARRC’s proposed rail extension in its decision making. The bulk material facility is not part of the proposed action, and a detailed environmental review of the bulk material facility is not within the scope of this EIS. The bulk materials facility, however, will be addressed in the cumulative impacts section of the EIS. mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES Proposed Action and Alternatives The NEPA regulations require Federal agencies to consider a reasonable range of feasible alternatives to the proposed action. The President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which oversees the implementation of NEPA, has stated in Forty Most Asked Questions Concerning CEQ’s National Environmental Policy Act Regulations that ‘‘[R]easonable alternatives include those that are practical or feasible from the technical and economic standpoint and using common sense * * *.’’ In this EIS, SEA and the cooperating agencies are considering a full range of alternatives that meet the purpose and need of the project, as well as the noaction alternative. The reasonable and feasible alternatives included for detailed analysis and alternatives considered but not included in detailed study are discussed in more detail below. A. Alternatives Based on agency consultations, feedback from stakeholders, and a constraints analysis based on engineering and environmental studies, in January 2008 ARRC developed the Preliminary Environmental and Alternatives Report, which presented eight possible alignment configurations. All alignments start at a terminal reserve area near Port MacKenzie at the southern end and connect to the existing ARRC mainline to the north. The alignments are composed of a southern and northern segment with a possible connector tying the segments together. The southern segments, Mac West or Mac East, run either east or west of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project. Just north of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project, there are three main northern segments— Willow, Houston, and Big Lake—with Houston having a north or south variant. Connector segments link the north and south segments together to create eight VerDate Nov<24>2008 19:20 Jul 16, 2009 Jkt 217001 possible alignment configurations as listed below and depicted in Figure 1. After reviewing the eight ARRCproposed alignments and considering all comments received during the scoping period, SEA and the cooperating agencies have decided to carry all eight alignments forward as alternatives for detailed analysis in the EIS. The no-action alternative will also be considered. The eight alternatives are listed below. Each would consist of a 200-foot right-of-way (ROW) for the railroad and associated facilities. 1. Mac West—Connector 1—Willow. This alternative would be 44.8 miles long and contains the segments farthest west. 2. Mac West—Connector 1— Houston—Houston North. This alternative would be 35.1 miles long, and is geographically one of the middle alignments. 3. Mac West—Connector 1— Houston—Houston South. This alternative would be 34.5 miles, and is geographically one of the middle alternatives. 4. Mac West—Connector 2—Big Lake. This alternative would be 35.8 miles. It includes the southern segment along the west side of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project and the most eastern north segment going towards Big Lake. 5. Mac East—Connector 3—Willow. This alternative would be 45 miles and is the longest. It includes the southern segment along the east side of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project and the most western north segment going towards Willow. 6. Mac East—Connector 3— Houston—Houston North. This alternative would be 35.3 miles, and is geographically one of the middle alternatives. 7. Mac East—Connector 3— Houston—Houston South. This alternative would be 34.7 miles long, and is geographically one of the middle alignments. 8. Mac East—Big Lake. This alternative would be 31.8 miles long and is the shortest alternative. It includes the southern segment along the east side of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project and the most eastern north segment going toward Big Lake. Descriptions of the individual segments that complete the eight build alternatives for the EIS are provided below. Southern Segments Mac West Segment The Mac West Segment would begin in the terminal reserve area and would PO 00000 Frm 00152 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 34861 proceed northwest across relatively flat terrain toward the southwest corner of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project. The segment would continue west of the agricultural area, traversing along the eastern boundary of Susitna Flats State Game Refuge. The terminal reserve area is proposed along the southern side of Mac West. Mac East Segment The Mac East Segment would begin in the terminal reserve area and would proceed north along the side of a ridge along the east side of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project. Near Mile Post 4.7, the segment would cross a ravine and then curve to the northeast along the top of another ridge. North of Mile Post 6, the segment would follow the alignment of Port MacKenzie Road, offset 200 feet or more to the west. The segment would continue along undulating terrain before reaching its junction with the Big Lake Segment or Connector Segment 3. The terminal reserve area is proposed along the north side of Mac East.1 See Figure 2 for a detailed map of the southern segments and terminal reserve area. Connectors Connector Segment 1 This 4.1-mile-long segment would connect the Mac West Segment to the Willow or Houston segments. From Mac West, this connector segment would continue north along the eastern boundary of the Susitna Flats State Game Refuge on level terrain. The segment would cross a tributary of the Little Susitna River. Connector Segment 2 This 3.7-mile-long segment would connect the Mac West Segment to the Big Lake Segment. At the northwestern end of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project, this connector segment would turn due east and travel along the southern boundary of the Point MacKenzie Correctional Farm. Connector Segment 3 This 4.5-mile-long segment would connect the Mac East Segment to the Willow or Houston segments. At the northeastern end of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project, this 1 Based on Port planning and development information and additional field data collected during the summer of 2008, ARRC has revised the proposed location for the terminal reserve area to serve Mac East. This terminal reserve area is shifted slightly to the west relative to the previous location. This change occurred after issuance of ARRC’s Preliminary Environmental and Alternatives Report and the scoping period for the EIS. E:\FR\FM\17JYN1.SGM 17JYN1 34862 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 136 / Friday, July 17, 2009 / Notices connector segment would shift to the northwest and cross Ayrshire Avenue and Farmers Road at grade. The segment would continue north of My Lake and cross an adjacent ravine. The remaining mile of the segment is nearly level. See Figure 3 for a detailed map of the connector segments. North Segments Willow Segment From Connector Segment 1 or 3, the Willow Segment would continue northwest where it would immediately cross the Little Susitna River (see Figure 4). Over the next 7 miles, the segment would continue north through rolling terrain. The segment would cross Fish Creek, the outlet for Red Shirt and Cow lakes. The Willow Segment would then proceed north, generally following the west-facing slope of a glacial moraine west of Red Shirt Lake. It would continue north through the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area for approximately 0.5 mile. The Willow Segment would cross the outlet for Vera Lake, continue over rolling terrain, and cross Willow Landing Road at grade. The segment would then continue through the Willow Creek State Recreation Area, where it would cross Willow Creek. The segment would curve to the east and cross Parks Highway with a grade separation, before connecting to the existing ARRC main line near Mile Post 188.9 along the proposed rail line. mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES Houston Segment From Connector Segment 1 or 3, the Houston Segment would proceed northeast, traveling through slightly undulating terrain with areas of wetland (see Figure 5). The segment would pass between Papoose Twins Lakes and Crooked Lake, traversing an area of hilly terrain. The remaining 4 miles of the Houston Segment would be in a gradually rising wetland area to a point near Muleshoe Lake and Little Horseshoe Lake, where it would connect to either the Houston North Segment or the Houston South Segment. Houston North Segment 2 From the Houston Segment, the Houston North Segment would continue north (see Figure 5), crossing over the Castle Mountain Fault. The Houston North Segment would cross the Cow Lake Trail, which is part of the Houston Lake Loop Trail. It would continue 2 Based on environmental impact associated with the original proposed connection with the main line as presented in the Preliminary Environmental and Alternatives Report and considered during the scoping period, ARRC shifted the connection point approximately 1 mile southeast to its present location. VerDate Nov<24>2008 19:20 Jul 16, 2009 Jkt 217001 through the Little Susitna Recreation Area, where it would cross the Little Susitna River. The segment would continue north on rolling terrain along the east side of Houston and Little Houston lakes, descending gradually to lower terrain adjacent to Lake Creek. The Houston North Segment would tie into the existing ARRC main line near Mile Post 178 without crossing the Parks Highway. Houston South Segment Also beginning between Muleshoe Lake and Little Horseshoe Lake, this proposed segment would traverse northeast, passing just west of Pear Lake (see Figure 5). The segment would traverse several gravel ridges that parallel the lakes in this area. The segment would tie into the existing mainline near Mile Post 174.0 without crossing the Parks Highway. Big Lake Segment From the Mac East Segment or Connector Segment 2, the Big Lake Segment would run northeast for approximately 3 miles, crossing Burma Road at grade (see Figure 6). It would continue on rolling terrain, crossing over Goose Creek, Fish Creek, Lucille Creek, and tributaries of Lucille Creek and Little Meadow Creek. The segment would cross Burma Road at grade and Big Lake Road, where it would be gradeseparated above Big Lake Road. The Big Lake Segment would continue north through a residential area before crossing under Parks Highway. The Big Lake Segment would connect with the existing ARRC main line near Mile Post 170.3 along the proposed rail line in a wetland area surrounding a stream that feeds into Long Lake. The refined information collected during the 2008 summer field season provided ARRC with better data to consider the tie-in location for the Big Lake Segment. The following information supplements the Preliminary Environmental and Alternatives Report (see Figure 6). These refinements of the Big Lake Segment will be addressed in the EIS. • Construct an approximately 430foot bridge on the Parks Highway over the proposed rail line and an unnamed anadromous fish stream. • Relocate approximately 2,400 feet of unnamed anadromous fish streams adjacent to the proposed rail line. • Relocate approximately 1,000 feet of Hawk Lane on the south side of the Parks Highway (because of the new Parks Highway bridge). • Close approximately 865 feet of Cheri Lake Drive where it crosses the PO 00000 Frm 00153 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 existing main line and intersects with the Parks Highway. • Extend Ray Street approximately 1,405 feet from Loon Street to the Parks Highway, which would include an atgrade crossing of the existing ARRC main line. • Acquire eight recreational/ residential parcels along Loon Lake because access to the parcels would be permanently blocked due to lack of access from the relocated road crossing (Cheri Lake Drive) and the new siding. • Relocate the business on the southwest corner of the Parks Highway and Cheri Lake Drive due to the Hawk Lane relocation. B. Alternatives Considered But Not Included in Detailed Study Following review of scoping comments received and the potential route alignments presented by ARRC in the Preliminary Environmental and Alternatives Report, SEA asked ARRC to consider the feasibility of making adjustments to the Willow, Big Lake, Mac West, and Houston North Segments, and to consider a new segment to reduce potential environmental impacts. The adjustments were proposed to reduce potential impacts to state recreation areas and game refuges, a road crossing, and wetlands. The proposed new segment would have utilized already existing corridors. ARRC considered SEA’s proposed changes and explained that making these adjustments would create additional impacts or the terrain would be unsuitable for railroad construction. For example, SEA proposed shifting the Willow Segment west to avoid Willow Creek State Recreation Area, but ARRC explained that this approach would require closing or relocating the Willow Airport. In response to ARRC’s concerns about the feasibility of SEA’s proposed changes, and based on its own independent analysis, SEA determined that its proposed modifications to the routes were not feasible. SEA also notes that rail across the proposed Knik Arm crossing connecting Port MacKenzie to the ARRC main line in Anchorage was considered, but determined impractical for several reasons. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) determined this option to be financially infeasible in the Knik Arm Crossing Final Environmental Impact Statement. The nearly $1 billion cost (in 2005 dollars) estimated for constructing this rail crossing would have exceeded the $600 million limit for the Knik Arm Crossing project. In addition, a route to Interior Alaska via the Knik Arm crossing would E:\FR\FM\17JYN1.SGM 17JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 136 / Friday, July 17, 2009 / Notices have been considerably longer than the alternatives being analyzed and would not meet the Applicant’s stated purpose of providing a rail connection suitable for shipment of bulk materials from Interior Alaska to Port Mackenzie. C. Public Participation As part of the environmental review process to date, SEA has conducted broad public outreach activities to inform the public about the proposed action and to facilitate public participation. SEA consulted with and will continue to consult with Federal, state, and local agencies; affected communities: and all interested parties to gather and disseminate information about the proposal. SEA and the cooperating agencies have also developed and implemented a Government-to-Government Consultation and Coordination Plan to seek, discuss, and consider the views of federally recognized Tribal Governments regarding the proposed action and alternatives. mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES D. Response to Comments SEA and the cooperating agencies reviewed and considered the comments received on the draft scope (130 comments with approximately 1,332 signatures) in preparing this final scope of the EIS. The final scope reflects any changes to the draft scope as a result of comments. Other changes in the final scope were made for clarification or as a result of additional analysis. Additions and modifications reflected in the final scope include: • Analysis of impacts on fisheries and fish habitat, specifically anadromous streams. Federal and state agencies provided comments on the potential impacts on fish and fish habitat. As a point of clarification, the EIS will consider project-related effects on fish resources including impacts from rail and road construction, types and locations of water crossings and the accommodation of ice formation. • Analysis of impacts on nesting waterfowl and eagles. Comments stated concerns about the potential impacts on nesting waterfowl and eagles, as well as migrating waterfowl, including cranes and grebes. As a point of clarification, the analysis in the EIS will consider the locations of eagle nests and migrating waterfowl near proposed alignments. • Analysis of impacts on moose and other wildlife. Comments stated that moose strikes by trains are among the greatest wildlife concerns. Comments also indicated that other mammals that reside in the area could be affected. To clarify, the EIS will address wildlife VerDate Nov<24>2008 19:20 Jul 16, 2009 Jkt 217001 habitat impacts, including potential impacts to moose. • Analysis of socioeconomic impacts. Comments recommend that the EIS consider the impacts of the proposed project on property values, land access and use (i.e., agricultural), and quality of life. Comments also stated concerns about the potential negative affects on income generated from recreation tourism. The EIS will consider potential project-related effects on local services as potential land use impacts. • Analysis of impacts on water resources. Comments requested that the EIS evaluate the potential loss of wetland habitat. Comments also stated concerns regarding the potential project impacts on watersheds (i.e., rail embankment acting as a barrier that would disrupt natural drainage systems). Comments also recommended the study of possible impacts of the Little Susitna River overflowing its banks and the compounded effect of a possible spill on this interconnected hydrologic system. The EIS will consider these potential impacts. • Analysis of impacts on cultural resources. Comments stated concerns over potential impacts to known and unidentified cultural resources (e.g., Iditarod Trail and native sites). Comments also stated concerns over loss of subsistence resources. The EIS will address cultural resources and subsistence. • Analysis of rail safety. Comments stated concerns over rail and highway safety related to hazardous materials transport, at-grade crossings, fire hazards, and crossing seismic zones (i.e., crossing fault lines). In addition, comments stated concerns about the safety of potential rail crossings at recreational trails. The EIS will examine the potential safety impacts of the proposed action. • Analysis of noise and vibration impacts. Comments stated concerns over noise and vibration impacts near residential and wilderness areas. The EIS will consider noise and vibration impacts including potential projectrelated impacts to sensitive receptors. • Analysis of recreation and access. Comments requested that the EIS address the potential impacts on recreation areas, access to these areas, and safety. Concerns specifically addressed the potential loss of access to recreational trails including the Iditarod, Junior Iditarod, and Iron Dog trails. Comments noted that many trails are unmarked through most recreation areas. Concerns were also raised about undisturbed state and Federal parks. Analysis of these issues will be included in the EIS. PO 00000 Frm 00154 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 34863 • Analysis of land use impacts. Comments stated concerns about impacts to private properties as well as Federal, state and borough public lands. Analysis of these issues will be included in the EIS. • Analysis of geology and soils. Comments stated concerns about the Castle Mountain fault, which would be crossed by one of the proposed alternatives. This issue will be addressed in the EIS. E. Environmental Impact Analysis Proposed New Construction Analysis in the EIS will address the proposed activities associated with construction and operation of new rail facilities and their potential environmental impacts, as appropriate. Impact Categories The EIS will analyze potential impacts from construction and operation of new rail facilities on the human and natural environment for each alternative, or in the case of the noaction alternative, the potential impacts of these activities not occurring. Impact areas addressed will include the categories of geology and soils, water resources including wetlands and other waters of the U.S., biological resources, cultural and historic resources, subsistence, air quality, noise and vibration, energy resources, transportation safety and delay, navigation, land use, socioeconomics as they relate to physical changes in the environment, and environmental justice. The EIS will include a discussion of each of these categories as they currently exist in the project area and will address the potential impacts of each alternative on each category as described as follows: 1. Geology and Soils The EIS will: a. Describe the geology, soils, and seismic conditions found within the project area, including unique or problematic geologic formations or soils, prime farmland, prime and unique soils, and hydric soils and analyze the potential impacts on these resources resulting from the various alternatives for construction of a new rail line. b. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential project impacts to geology and soils, and seismic hazards, as appropriate. 2. Water Resources The EIS will: a. Describe the existing surface water and groundwater resources within the project area, including lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands, and E:\FR\FM\17JYN1.SGM 17JYN1 34864 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 136 / Friday, July 17, 2009 / Notices floodplains and analyze the potential impacts on these resources resulting from each alternative. b. Describe the permitting requirements applicable to wetlands, stream and river crossings, water quality, floodplains, and erosion control. c. Propose mitigative measures to avoid, minimize, or compensate for potential project impacts to water resources, as appropriate. d. Identify and evaluate potential impacts to the Su-Knik Mitigation Bank along the Big Lake Segment. Note: The Big Lake Segment would go through two mitigation bank parcels that are part of the Su-Knik Mitigation Bank. Use of these two mitigation bank parcels for the proposed rail line could require concurrence from the entities that created the mitigation bank or ROW acquisition by ARRC through eminent domain. mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES 3. Biological Resources The EIS will: a. Evaluate the existing biological resources within the project area, including vegetative communities, wildlife and fisheries, and Federal and state threatened or endangered species and the potential impacts to these resources resulting from each alternative. b. Describe any wildlife sanctuaries, refuges, national or state parks, forests, or grasslands and evaluate the potential impacts to these resources resulting from each alternative. c. Propose mitigative measures to avoid, minimize, or compensate for potential impacts to biological resources, as appropriate. 4. Cultural and Historic Resources The EIS will: a. Analyze the potential projectrelated impacts to historic structures or districts previously recorded and determined potentially eligible, eligible, or listed on the National Register of Historic Places within or immediately adjacent to the right-of-way for the proposed rail alignments. b. Evaluate the potential impacts of each alternative to archaeological sites previously recorded and either listed as unevaluated or determined potentially eligible, eligible, or listed on the National Register of Historic Places within the right-of-way for the alternative rail alignments and the noaction alternative. c. Analyze the potential impacts to historic structures or districts or archaeological sites identified by ground survey and determined potentially eligible, eligible, or listed on the National Register of Historic Places VerDate Nov<24>2008 19:20 Jul 16, 2009 Jkt 217001 within or immediately adjacent to the right-of-way for the alternative rail alignments. d. Evaluate the potential general impacts to paleontological resources in the project area due to project construction, if necessary and required. e. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential project impacts to cultural and historic resources, as appropriate. 5. Subsistence The EIS will: a. Analyze the potential impacts of the project alternatives on subsistence activities in the project area. b. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential project impacts on subsistence activities, as appropriate. 6. Air Quality The EIS will: a. Evaluate air emissions from rail operations, if the alternative would affect a Class I or non-attainment or maintenance area as designated under the Clean Air Act. b. Describe the potential air quality impacts resulting from new rail line construction activities. c. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential project impacts to air quality, as appropriate. 7. Noise and Vibration The EIS will: a. Describe the potential noise and vibration impacts during new rail line construction. b. Describe the potential noise and vibration impacts of rail line operations over new and existing rail lines. c. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential project impacts to sensitive noise receptors, as appropriate. 8. Energy The EIS will: a. Describe and evaluate the potential impact of the new rail line on the distribution and use of energy resources in the project area for each alternative, including petroleum and gas pipelines and overhead electric transmission lines. b. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential project impacts to energy resources, as appropriate. 9. Transportation The EIS will: a. Evaluate the potential impacts of each alternative, including new rail line construction and operation, on the existing transportation network in the PO 00000 Frm 00155 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 project area, including vehicular delays at grade crossings. b. Describe existing road/rail grade crossing safety and analyze the potential for an increase in accidents related to the new rail operations, as appropriate. c. Describe existing rail operations and analyze the potential for increased probability of train accidents, as appropriate. d. Evaluate the potential for disruption and delays to the movement of emergency vehicles due to new rail line construction and operation for each alternative. e. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential project impacts to transportation systems, as appropriate. 10. Navigation The EIS will: a. Identify existing navigable waterways within the project area and analyze the potential impacts on navigability resulting from each alternative. b. Describe the permitting requirements for the various alternatives concerning navigation. c. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential impacts to navigation, as appropriate. 11. Land Use The EIS will: a. Evaluate potential impacts of each alternative on existing land use patterns within the project area and identify those land uses that would be potentially impacted by new rail line construction. b. Analyze the potential impacts associated with each alternative to land uses identified within the project area. Such potential impacts could include incompatibility with existing land uses and conversion of land to railroad uses. c. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential impacts to land use, as appropriate. d. Evaluate existing conditions and the potential impacts of the alternatives on recreational opportunities in the project area. e. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential project impacts on recreational opportunities, as appropriate. f. Identify and evaluate potential impacts to resources protected under the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) regulation known as ‘‘Section 4(f).’’ (Note: The STB is an independent agency and is not subject to Section 4(f) requirements). 23 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 774 and 49 U.S.C. 303 mandate that the Secretary of Transportation shall not approve any E:\FR\FM\17JYN1.SGM 17JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 136 / Friday, July 17, 2009 / Notices transportation project requiring the use of publicly owned parks, recreation areas or wildlife and waterfowl refuges, or significant historic sites, regardless of ownership, unless there is no prudent and feasible alternative to using that land, and the program or project includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the public park, recreation area, wildlife or waterfowl refuge, or significant site, resulting from that use. Because FRA is a USDOT agency, they could not provide funding for the project if the Board authorizes construction and operation of an alternative that requires the use of resources protected under Section 4(f) of the USDOT Act if there is a prudent and feasible alternative that does not use Section 4(f) resources, unless the use would result in de minimis impacts to Section 4(f) resources, which do not require avoidance. Note: The Willow-Connector 1–Mac West alternative would traverse the Willow Creek State Recreation Area, Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, Little Susitna Recreation River, and Susitna Flats State Game Refuge. The Houston North Segment would cross the Little Susitna Recreation River. These recreation and refuge areas are all Section 4(f) resources and FRA funding for any rail line alternative affecting these resources could be prohibited. g. Identify sites in the proposed project area that are known to or might have been contaminated by hazardous materials, identify sites that are regulated hazardous waste facilities, and describes the potential impacts of constructing and operating the proposed rail line on or near known hazardous materials and waste sites. 12. Socioeconomics The EIS will: a. Analyze the effects of a potential influx of construction workers and the potential increase in demand for local services interrelated with natural or physical environmental effects. b. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential project adverse impacts to social and economic resources, as appropriate. mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES 13. Environmental Justice The EIS will: a. Evaluate the potential impacts of each alternative, including construction and operation of the rail lines, on local and regional minority populations and low-income populations. b. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential project impacts on environmental justice issues, as appropriate. VerDate Nov<24>2008 19:20 Jul 16, 2009 Jkt 217001 Cumulative Impacts The EIS will analyze cumulative impacts for the alternatives for the proposed construction and operation of new rail facilities on the human and natural environment, or in the case of the no-action alternative, of the lack of these activities. SEA will analyze the potential additive effects of the proposed action and alternatives to the effects on applicable resources of relevant past, present, and reasonably foreseeable projects or actions in the area of the proposed action. SEA will determine appropriate time and geographic boundaries for applicable resource-specific analyses in order to focus the cumulative impacts analysis on truly meaningful effects. Resources addressed may include the categories of geology and soils, water resources including wetlands and other waters of the U.S., biological resources, cultural and historic resources, subsistence, air quality, noise and vibration, energy resources, transportation safety and delay, navigation, land use, socioeconomics as they relate to physical changes in the environment, and environmental justice. The EIS will review all relevant past, concurrent, and reasonably foreseeable actions that could result in collectively significant impacts to each of the categories of impacts listed above, and to any other categories of impacts that may be addressed as a result of comments received during the scoping process or the Draft EIS comment period. By the Board, Victoria Rutson, Chief, Section of Environmental Analysis. Kulunie L. Cannon, Clearance Clerk. [FR Doc. E9–17018 Filed 7–16–09; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4915–01–P DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Office of Thrift Supervision FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION Agency Information Collection Activities; Renewal of a Currently Approved Collection; Comment Request AGENCIES: Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Treasury; Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board); Federal Deposit PO 00000 Frm 00156 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 34865 Insurance Corporation (FDIC); and Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), Treasury. ACTION: Joint notice and request for comment. SUMMARY: In accordance with the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35), the OCC, the OTS, the Board, and the FDIC (the agencies), may not conduct or sponsor, and the respondent is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The agencies have approved the publication for public comment the proposal to extend, without revision, the Advanced Capital Adequacy Framework information collection, which is a currently approved information collection. At the end of the comment period, the comments and recommendations received will be analyzed to determine the extent to which the agencies should modify the report. The agencies will then submit the report to OMB for review and approval. DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before September 15, 2009. ADDRESSES: Interested parties are invited to submit written comments to any or all of the agencies. All comments, which should refer to the OMB control number(s), will be shared among the agencies. OCC: Communications Division, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Public Information Room, Mail Stop 2–3, Attention: 1557–0234, 250 E Street, SW., Washington, DC 20219. In addition, comments may be sent by fax to (202) 874–5274, or by electronic mail to regs.comments@occ.treas.gov. You may personally inspect and photocopy comments at the OCC, 250 E Street, SW., Washington, DC. For security reasons, the OCC requires that visitors make an appointment to inspect comments. You may do so by calling (202) 874–4700. Upon arrival, visitors will be required to present valid government-issued photo identification and submit to security screening in order to inspect and photocopy comments. Board: You may submit comments, which should refer to FR 4200, by any of the following methods: • Agency Web Site: http:// www.federalreserve.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on the http://www.federalreserve.gov/ generalinfo/foia/ProposedRegs.cfm. E:\FR\FM\17JYN1.SGM 17JYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 136 (Friday, July 17, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 34859-34865]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-17018]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Surface Transportation Board

[STB Finance Docket No. 35095]


Alaska Railroad Corporation--Construction and Operation 
Exemption--a Rail Line Extension to Port MacKenzie, AK

AGENCY: Lead: Surface Transportation Board. Cooperating: U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers, Alaska District; Federal Railroad Administration; 
and United States Coast Guard.

ACTION: Notice of Availability of Final Scope of Study for the 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC or Applicant) petitioned 
the Surface Transportation Board (Board) pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 10502 
for authority to construct and operate a new rail line from Matanuska-
Susitna Borough's (MSB) Port MacKenzie to ARRC's existing main line 
between Wasilla and north of Willow, Alaska. The project would involve 
the construction and operation of approximately 30 to 45 miles of new 
rail to the main line track. Figure 1 shows ARRC's existing track and 
the proposed rail line extension from Port MacKenzie to ARRC's existing 
main line (All figures are available for viewing on the Board's Web 
site at http://www.stb.dot.gov by going to ``Environmental Matters,'' 
then selecting ``Key Cases'' in the dropdown; and then when the next 
page appears, clicking ``Alaska Railroad--Port MacKenzie Rail 
Extension).
    Because the construction and operation of this project has the 
potential to result in significant environmental impacts, the Board's 
Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA) has determined that the 
preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is appropriate. 
For further information about the Board's environmental review process 
and the EIS, you may also visit a Board-sponsored project Web site at 
http://www.stbportmacraileis.com.
    To help determine the scope of the EIS, and as required by the 
Board's regulations at 49 CFR 1105.10(a)(2), SEA published in the 
Federal Register and mailed to the public on February 12, 2008, the 
Notice of Availability of Draft Scope of Study for the EIS, Notice of 
Scoping Meetings, and Request for Comments. SEA also prepared and 
distributed to the public a fact sheet that introduced ARRC's Port 
MacKenzie Rail Extension, announced SEA's intent to prepare an EIS, 
requested comments, and gave notice of six public scoping meetings to 
citizens; elected officials; Federal, state, and local agencies; tribal 
organizations; and other potentially interested stakeholders. SEA held 
six public scoping meetings in Knik, Big Lake, Willow, Houston, 
Wasilla, and Anchorage, Alaska on March 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, and 11, 2008, 
respectively.
    The scoping comment period concluded March 21, 2008. The U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers, Alaska District (USACE); Federal Railroad 
Administration (FRA); and United States Coast Guard (USGC) requested 
and were granted cooperating agency status in preparation of the EIS. 
After review and consideration of all comments received, this notice 
sets forth the final scope of the EIS. The final scope reflects any 
changes to the draft scope as a result of the comments, summarizes and 
addresses the principal environmental concerns raised by the comments, 
and briefly discusses pertinent issues concerning this project that 
further clarify the final scope.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
David Navecky, Section of Environmental Analysis, Surface 
Transportation Board, 395 E Street, SW., Washington, DC 20423-0001, 
202-245-0294, or call SEA's toll-free number for the project at 1-888-
257-7560. Assistance for the hearing impaired is available through the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339. The Web 
site for the Surface Transportation Board is http://www.stb.dot.gov.
Serena Sweet, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers--P.O. Box 6898, Elmendorf 
Air Force Base, AK 99506, 907-753-2819.
John Winkle, Passenger Programs Division, Federal Railroad

[[Page 34860]]

Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, 202-
493-6067.
James Helfinstine, Seventeenth District, U.S. Coast Guard, P.O. Box 
25517, Juneau, AK 99802-5517, 907-463-2268.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Port MacKenzie is a deepwater facility on the west side of the Knik 
Arm in upper Cook Inlet in south-central Alaska. At present, freight 
truck is the only available surface mode of transportation to and from 
Port MacKenzie. The Applicant has stated that the proposed rail line 
would satisfy the need for an additional mode of transportation for the 
movement of bulk materials, intermodal containers, and other freight to 
and from Port MacKenzie. The proposed project is consistent with the 
MSB's economic development plans and with ARRC's statutory goal to 
foster and promote long-term economic growth in the State of Alaska. 
The project would support the Port's continued development as a multi-
modal and bulk materials export and import facility. ARRC plans to 
support commercial freight rail service needs with the proposed 
project.
    Major elements of the project would include:
     Approximately 30 to 45 miles of new railroad track 
depending on the alternative;
     A 200-foot wide right-of-way (ROW);
     Crossings (depending on the alternative) of the Little 
Susitna River, Lake Creek, Goose Creek, Little Willow Creek, Fish 
Creek, Rogers Creek, Lucile Creek, Little Meadow Creek, and Willow 
Creek, along with many other small stream crossings;
     Crossings of local roads and streets, including grade-
separations;
     Pipeline, utility, and recreational trail crossings, 
including the Iditarod National Historic Trail;
     Road closures and relocations;
     Track sidings along the existing ARRC mainline;
     A terminal reserve area (consists of yard sidings, storage 
areas, and a terminal building to support train maintenance); and
     Ancillary railroad support facilities including, but not 
limited to, communications towers and facilities, maintenance, power, 
signals, and access road.

Environmental Review Process

    The Board is the lead agency, pursuant to 40 CFR 1501.5. SEA is 
responsible for ensuring that the Board complies with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321-4335, and related 
environmental statutes, and for completing the environmental review 
process. The NEPA review process is intended to assist the Board, the 
cooperating agencies and the public in identifying and assessing the 
potential environmental consequences of a proposed action and the 
reasonable alternative before a decision is made.
    ICF International is serving as an independent third-party 
contractor to assist SEA in the environmental review process. SEA is 
directing and supervising the preparation of the EIS. The USACE, FRA, 
and USCG are cooperating agencies, pursuant to 40 CFR 1501.6.
    The Federal agency actions considered in this EIS will include 
decisions, permits, approvals and funding related to the proposed 
action. The Board will decide whether to grant authority to ARRC to 
construct and operate the rail line pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 10901 and 
10502. The USACE will decide whether to issue permits pursuant to 
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251-1376, as amended) 
and/or Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 
403). The USCG will decide whether to issue authority to construct 
bridges over navigable waters of the United States pursuant to the 
Department of Transportation Act of 1966 (49 U.S.C. 1651-1659). The FRA 
could provide funding to ARRC; however, the FRA would not provide 
funding for a Board-authorized alternative, if any, that would require 
the use of resources protected under Section 4(f) of the U.S. 
Department of Transportation (USDOT) Act (23 CFR 774) if there is a 
prudent and feasible alternative that does not use Section 4(f) 
resources, unless the Secretary of Transportation determines that the 
impacts to the protected resources would be de minimis in accordance 
with Section 6009(a) of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient 
Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) amendment to 
the Section 4(f) requirements, which do not require avoidance. The EIS 
should include all of the information necessary for the decisions by 
the Board and the cooperating agencies.
    SEA and the cooperating agencies are preparing a Draft EIS for the 
proposed action. The Draft EIS will address those environmental issues 
and concerns identified during the scoping process and detailed in this 
final scope. It will also discuss a reasonable range of alternatives to 
the proposed action, including a no-action alternative, and recommend 
environmental mitigation measures, as appropriate.
    The Draft EIS will be made available upon its completion for public 
review and comment. A Final EIS will then be prepared reflecting 
further analysis by SEA and the cooperating agencies and the public and 
agency comments on the Draft EIS. In reaching their decisions on this 
case, the Board and the cooperating agencies will take into account the 
full environmental record, including the DEIS, the Final EIS, and all 
public and agency comments received.

Purpose and Need

    The Applicant has stated that the purpose of the Port MacKenzie 
Rail Extension is to establish a rail link between Port MacKenzie (or 
Port) and the ARRC rail system, providing Port customers and shippers 
with rail transportation between the Port and Interior Alaska. The Port 
is a deepwater facility on the west side of Knik Arm in upper Cook 
Inlet, in south-central Alaska. At present, freight truck is the only 
available surface mode of transportation to and from the Port.
    The Applicant has also stated that the proposed rail line would 
satisfy the need for an additional mode of transportation for the 
movement of bulk materials, intermodal containers, and other freight to 
and from the Port. According to ARRC, the proposed project would 
support ARRC's statutory goal to foster and promote long-term economic 
growth and development in the State of Alaska and would be consistent 
with the Port's economic development plans, which include the continued 
development of the Port as a multi-modal and bulk materials export and 
import facility.

Port Activities

    The proposed rail line extension would end at a terminal reserve 
(rail yard) approximately 2 or 3 miles, depending on the route, from 
the existing Port docks. Rail facilities the Port might construct to 
connect to the rail line extension would be particular to the specific 
traffic needs and would be expected to be generally consistent with 
Port master planning documents. These facilities might include 
buildings, roads, industrial spurs, sidings, loading/unloading tracks, 
and other ancillary facilities throughout the upland port district. 
These facilities would be developed as the Port continued to grow, but 
would be independent of the planned rail extension. At present, the MSB 
is developing a bulk materials facility at the Port to accommodate the

[[Page 34861]]

need for expansion of Port facilities to handle bulk material cargo to 
be transported to the Port by truck, independent of the planned rail 
line extension to the Port. The MSB has stated that as it continues to 
plan for the bulk materials facility and future Port development, it 
will consider the location of ARRC's proposed rail extension in its 
decision making. The bulk material facility is not part of the proposed 
action, and a detailed environmental review of the bulk material 
facility is not within the scope of this EIS. The bulk materials 
facility, however, will be addressed in the cumulative impacts section 
of the EIS.

Proposed Action and Alternatives

    The NEPA regulations require Federal agencies to consider a 
reasonable range of feasible alternatives to the proposed action. The 
President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which oversees the 
implementation of NEPA, has stated in Forty Most Asked Questions 
Concerning CEQ's National Environmental Policy Act Regulations that 
``[R]easonable alternatives include those that are practical or 
feasible from the technical and economic standpoint and using common 
sense * * *.'' In this EIS, SEA and the cooperating agencies are 
considering a full range of alternatives that meet the purpose and need 
of the project, as well as the no-action alternative. The reasonable 
and feasible alternatives included for detailed analysis and 
alternatives considered but not included in detailed study are 
discussed in more detail below.

A. Alternatives

    Based on agency consultations, feedback from stakeholders, and a 
constraints analysis based on engineering and environmental studies, in 
January 2008 ARRC developed the Preliminary Environmental and 
Alternatives Report, which presented eight possible alignment 
configurations. All alignments start at a terminal reserve area near 
Port MacKenzie at the southern end and connect to the existing ARRC 
mainline to the north. The alignments are composed of a southern and 
northern segment with a possible connector tying the segments together. 
The southern segments, Mac West or Mac East, run either east or west of 
the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project. Just north of the Point 
MacKenzie Agricultural Project, there are three main northern 
segments--Willow, Houston, and Big Lake--with Houston having a north or 
south variant. Connector segments link the north and south segments 
together to create eight possible alignment configurations as listed 
below and depicted in Figure 1.
    After reviewing the eight ARRC-proposed alignments and considering 
all comments received during the scoping period, SEA and the 
cooperating agencies have decided to carry all eight alignments forward 
as alternatives for detailed analysis in the EIS. The no-action 
alternative will also be considered. The eight alternatives are listed 
below. Each would consist of a 200-foot right-of-way (ROW) for the 
railroad and associated facilities.
    1. Mac West--Connector 1--Willow. This alternative would be 44.8 
miles long and contains the segments farthest west.
    2. Mac West--Connector 1--Houston--Houston North. This alternative 
would be 35.1 miles long, and is geographically one of the middle 
alignments.
    3. Mac West--Connector 1--Houston--Houston South. This alternative 
would be 34.5 miles, and is geographically one of the middle 
alternatives.
    4. Mac West--Connector 2--Big Lake. This alternative would be 35.8 
miles. It includes the southern segment along the west side of the 
Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project and the most eastern north segment 
going towards Big Lake.
    5. Mac East--Connector 3--Willow. This alternative would be 45 
miles and is the longest. It includes the southern segment along the 
east side of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project and the most 
western north segment going towards Willow.
    6. Mac East--Connector 3--Houston--Houston North. This alternative 
would be 35.3 miles, and is geographically one of the middle 
alternatives.
    7. Mac East--Connector 3--Houston--Houston South. This alternative 
would be 34.7 miles long, and is geographically one of the middle 
alignments.
    8. Mac East--Big Lake. This alternative would be 31.8 miles long 
and is the shortest alternative. It includes the southern segment along 
the east side of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project and the most 
eastern north segment going toward Big Lake.
    Descriptions of the individual segments that complete the eight 
build alternatives for the EIS are provided below.

Southern Segments

Mac West Segment

    The Mac West Segment would begin in the terminal reserve area and 
would proceed northwest across relatively flat terrain toward the 
southwest corner of the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project. The 
segment would continue west of the agricultural area, traversing along 
the eastern boundary of Susitna Flats State Game Refuge. The terminal 
reserve area is proposed along the southern side of Mac West.

Mac East Segment

    The Mac East Segment would begin in the terminal reserve area and 
would proceed north along the side of a ridge along the east side of 
the Point MacKenzie Agricultural Project. Near Mile Post 4.7, the 
segment would cross a ravine and then curve to the northeast along the 
top of another ridge. North of Mile Post 6, the segment would follow 
the alignment of Port MacKenzie Road, offset 200 feet or more to the 
west. The segment would continue along undulating terrain before 
reaching its junction with the Big Lake Segment or Connector Segment 3. 
The terminal reserve area is proposed along the north side of Mac 
East.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Based on Port planning and development information and 
additional field data collected during the summer of 2008, ARRC has 
revised the proposed location for the terminal reserve area to serve 
Mac East. This terminal reserve area is shifted slightly to the west 
relative to the previous location. This change occurred after 
issuance of ARRC's Preliminary Environmental and Alternatives Report 
and the scoping period for the EIS.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    See Figure 2 for a detailed map of the southern segments and 
terminal reserve area.

Connectors

Connector Segment 1

    This 4.1-mile-long segment would connect the Mac West Segment to 
the Willow or Houston segments. From Mac West, this connector segment 
would continue north along the eastern boundary of the Susitna Flats 
State Game Refuge on level terrain. The segment would cross a tributary 
of the Little Susitna River.

Connector Segment 2

    This 3.7-mile-long segment would connect the Mac West Segment to 
the Big Lake Segment. At the northwestern end of the Point MacKenzie 
Agricultural Project, this connector segment would turn due east and 
travel along the southern boundary of the Point MacKenzie Correctional 
Farm.

Connector Segment 3

    This 4.5-mile-long segment would connect the Mac East Segment to 
the Willow or Houston segments. At the northeastern end of the Point 
MacKenzie Agricultural Project, this

[[Page 34862]]

connector segment would shift to the northwest and cross Ayrshire 
Avenue and Farmers Road at grade. The segment would continue north of 
My Lake and cross an adjacent ravine. The remaining mile of the segment 
is nearly level.
    See Figure 3 for a detailed map of the connector segments.

North Segments

Willow Segment

    From Connector Segment 1 or 3, the Willow Segment would continue 
northwest where it would immediately cross the Little Susitna River 
(see Figure 4). Over the next 7 miles, the segment would continue north 
through rolling terrain. The segment would cross Fish Creek, the outlet 
for Red Shirt and Cow lakes. The Willow Segment would then proceed 
north, generally following the west-facing slope of a glacial moraine 
west of Red Shirt Lake. It would continue north through the Nancy Lake 
State Recreation Area for approximately 0.5 mile. The Willow Segment 
would cross the outlet for Vera Lake, continue over rolling terrain, 
and cross Willow Landing Road at grade. The segment would then continue 
through the Willow Creek State Recreation Area, where it would cross 
Willow Creek. The segment would curve to the east and cross Parks 
Highway with a grade separation, before connecting to the existing ARRC 
main line near Mile Post 188.9 along the proposed rail line.

Houston Segment

    From Connector Segment 1 or 3, the Houston Segment would proceed 
northeast, traveling through slightly undulating terrain with areas of 
wetland (see Figure 5). The segment would pass between Papoose Twins 
Lakes and Crooked Lake, traversing an area of hilly terrain. The 
remaining 4 miles of the Houston Segment would be in a gradually rising 
wetland area to a point near Muleshoe Lake and Little Horseshoe Lake, 
where it would connect to either the Houston North Segment or the 
Houston South Segment.

Houston North Segment \2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ Based on environmental impact associated with the original 
proposed connection with the main line as presented in the 
Preliminary Environmental and Alternatives Report and considered 
during the scoping period, ARRC shifted the connection point 
approximately 1 mile southeast to its present location.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    From the Houston Segment, the Houston North Segment would continue 
north (see Figure 5), crossing over the Castle Mountain Fault. The 
Houston North Segment would cross the Cow Lake Trail, which is part of 
the Houston Lake Loop Trail. It would continue through the Little 
Susitna Recreation Area, where it would cross the Little Susitna River. 
The segment would continue north on rolling terrain along the east side 
of Houston and Little Houston lakes, descending gradually to lower 
terrain adjacent to Lake Creek. The Houston North Segment would tie 
into the existing ARRC main line near Mile Post 178 without crossing 
the Parks Highway.

Houston South Segment

    Also beginning between Muleshoe Lake and Little Horseshoe Lake, 
this proposed segment would traverse northeast, passing just west of 
Pear Lake (see Figure 5). The segment would traverse several gravel 
ridges that parallel the lakes in this area. The segment would tie into 
the existing mainline near Mile Post 174.0 without crossing the Parks 
Highway.

Big Lake Segment

    From the Mac East Segment or Connector Segment 2, the Big Lake 
Segment would run northeast for approximately 3 miles, crossing Burma 
Road at grade (see Figure 6). It would continue on rolling terrain, 
crossing over Goose Creek, Fish Creek, Lucille Creek, and tributaries 
of Lucille Creek and Little Meadow Creek. The segment would cross Burma 
Road at grade and Big Lake Road, where it would be grade-separated 
above Big Lake Road. The Big Lake Segment would continue north through 
a residential area before crossing under Parks Highway. The Big Lake 
Segment would connect with the existing ARRC main line near Mile Post 
170.3 along the proposed rail line in a wetland area surrounding a 
stream that feeds into Long Lake.
    The refined information collected during the 2008 summer field 
season provided ARRC with better data to consider the tie-in location 
for the Big Lake Segment. The following information supplements the 
Preliminary Environmental and Alternatives Report (see Figure 6). These 
refinements of the Big Lake Segment will be addressed in the EIS.
     Construct an approximately 430-foot bridge on the Parks 
Highway over the proposed rail line and an unnamed anadromous fish 
stream.
     Relocate approximately 2,400 feet of unnamed anadromous 
fish streams adjacent to the proposed rail line.
     Relocate approximately 1,000 feet of Hawk Lane on the 
south side of the Parks Highway (because of the new Parks Highway 
bridge).
     Close approximately 865 feet of Cheri Lake Drive where it 
crosses the existing main line and intersects with the Parks Highway.
     Extend Ray Street approximately 1,405 feet from Loon 
Street to the Parks Highway, which would include an at-grade crossing 
of the existing ARRC main line.
     Acquire eight recreational/residential parcels along Loon 
Lake because access to the parcels would be permanently blocked due to 
lack of access from the relocated road crossing (Cheri Lake Drive) and 
the new siding.
     Relocate the business on the southwest corner of the Parks 
Highway and Cheri Lake Drive due to the Hawk Lane relocation.

B. Alternatives Considered But Not Included in Detailed Study

    Following review of scoping comments received and the potential 
route alignments presented by ARRC in the Preliminary Environmental and 
Alternatives Report, SEA asked ARRC to consider the feasibility of 
making adjustments to the Willow, Big Lake, Mac West, and Houston North 
Segments, and to consider a new segment to reduce potential 
environmental impacts. The adjustments were proposed to reduce 
potential impacts to state recreation areas and game refuges, a road 
crossing, and wetlands. The proposed new segment would have utilized 
already existing corridors. ARRC considered SEA's proposed changes and 
explained that making these adjustments would create additional impacts 
or the terrain would be unsuitable for railroad construction. For 
example, SEA proposed shifting the Willow Segment west to avoid Willow 
Creek State Recreation Area, but ARRC explained that this approach 
would require closing or relocating the Willow Airport. In response to 
ARRC's concerns about the feasibility of SEA's proposed changes, and 
based on its own independent analysis, SEA determined that its proposed 
modifications to the routes were not feasible.
    SEA also notes that rail across the proposed Knik Arm crossing 
connecting Port MacKenzie to the ARRC main line in Anchorage was 
considered, but determined impractical for several reasons. The Federal 
Highway Administration (FHWA) determined this option to be financially 
infeasible in the Knik Arm Crossing Final Environmental Impact 
Statement. The nearly $1 billion cost (in 2005 dollars) estimated for 
constructing this rail crossing would have exceeded the $600 million 
limit for the Knik Arm Crossing project. In addition, a route to 
Interior Alaska via the Knik Arm crossing would

[[Page 34863]]

have been considerably longer than the alternatives being analyzed and 
would not meet the Applicant's stated purpose of providing a rail 
connection suitable for shipment of bulk materials from Interior Alaska 
to Port Mackenzie.

C. Public Participation

    As part of the environmental review process to date, SEA has 
conducted broad public outreach activities to inform the public about 
the proposed action and to facilitate public participation. SEA 
consulted with and will continue to consult with Federal, state, and 
local agencies; affected communities: and all interested parties to 
gather and disseminate information about the proposal. SEA and the 
cooperating agencies have also developed and implemented a Government-
to-Government Consultation and Coordination Plan to seek, discuss, and 
consider the views of federally recognized Tribal Governments regarding 
the proposed action and alternatives.

D. Response to Comments

    SEA and the cooperating agencies reviewed and considered the 
comments received on the draft scope (130 comments with approximately 
1,332 signatures) in preparing this final scope of the EIS. The final 
scope reflects any changes to the draft scope as a result of comments. 
Other changes in the final scope were made for clarification or as a 
result of additional analysis. Additions and modifications reflected in 
the final scope include:
     Analysis of impacts on fisheries and fish habitat, 
specifically anadromous streams. Federal and state agencies provided 
comments on the potential impacts on fish and fish habitat. As a point 
of clarification, the EIS will consider project-related effects on fish 
resources including impacts from rail and road construction, types and 
locations of water crossings and the accommodation of ice formation.
     Analysis of impacts on nesting waterfowl and eagles. 
Comments stated concerns about the potential impacts on nesting 
waterfowl and eagles, as well as migrating waterfowl, including cranes 
and grebes. As a point of clarification, the analysis in the EIS will 
consider the locations of eagle nests and migrating waterfowl near 
proposed alignments.
     Analysis of impacts on moose and other wildlife. Comments 
stated that moose strikes by trains are among the greatest wildlife 
concerns. Comments also indicated that other mammals that reside in the 
area could be affected. To clarify, the EIS will address wildlife 
habitat impacts, including potential impacts to moose.
     Analysis of socioeconomic impacts. Comments recommend that 
the EIS consider the impacts of the proposed project on property 
values, land access and use (i.e., agricultural), and quality of life. 
Comments also stated concerns about the potential negative affects on 
income generated from recreation tourism. The EIS will consider 
potential project-related effects on local services as potential land 
use impacts.
     Analysis of impacts on water resources. Comments requested 
that the EIS evaluate the potential loss of wetland habitat. Comments 
also stated concerns regarding the potential project impacts on 
watersheds (i.e., rail embankment acting as a barrier that would 
disrupt natural drainage systems). Comments also recommended the study 
of possible impacts of the Little Susitna River overflowing its banks 
and the compounded effect of a possible spill on this interconnected 
hydrologic system. The EIS will consider these potential impacts.
     Analysis of impacts on cultural resources. Comments stated 
concerns over potential impacts to known and unidentified cultural 
resources (e.g., Iditarod Trail and native sites). Comments also stated 
concerns over loss of subsistence resources. The EIS will address 
cultural resources and subsistence.
     Analysis of rail safety. Comments stated concerns over 
rail and highway safety related to hazardous materials transport, at-
grade crossings, fire hazards, and crossing seismic zones (i.e., 
crossing fault lines). In addition, comments stated concerns about the 
safety of potential rail crossings at recreational trails. The EIS will 
examine the potential safety impacts of the proposed action.
     Analysis of noise and vibration impacts. Comments stated 
concerns over noise and vibration impacts near residential and 
wilderness areas. The EIS will consider noise and vibration impacts 
including potential project-related impacts to sensitive receptors.
     Analysis of recreation and access. Comments requested that 
the EIS address the potential impacts on recreation areas, access to 
these areas, and safety. Concerns specifically addressed the potential 
loss of access to recreational trails including the Iditarod, Junior 
Iditarod, and Iron Dog trails. Comments noted that many trails are 
unmarked through most recreation areas. Concerns were also raised about 
undisturbed state and Federal parks. Analysis of these issues will be 
included in the EIS.
     Analysis of land use impacts. Comments stated concerns 
about impacts to private properties as well as Federal, state and 
borough public lands. Analysis of these issues will be included in the 
EIS.
     Analysis of geology and soils. Comments stated concerns 
about the Castle Mountain fault, which would be crossed by one of the 
proposed alternatives. This issue will be addressed in the EIS.

E. Environmental Impact Analysis

Proposed New Construction
    Analysis in the EIS will address the proposed activities associated 
with construction and operation of new rail facilities and their 
potential environmental impacts, as appropriate.
Impact Categories
    The EIS will analyze potential impacts from construction and 
operation of new rail facilities on the human and natural environment 
for each alternative, or in the case of the no-action alternative, the 
potential impacts of these activities not occurring. Impact areas 
addressed will include the categories of geology and soils, water 
resources including wetlands and other waters of the U.S., biological 
resources, cultural and historic resources, subsistence, air quality, 
noise and vibration, energy resources, transportation safety and delay, 
navigation, land use, socioeconomics as they relate to physical changes 
in the environment, and environmental justice. The EIS will include a 
discussion of each of these categories as they currently exist in the 
project area and will address the potential impacts of each alternative 
on each category as described as follows:
1. Geology and Soils
    The EIS will:
    a. Describe the geology, soils, and seismic conditions found within 
the project area, including unique or problematic geologic formations 
or soils, prime farmland, prime and unique soils, and hydric soils and 
analyze the potential impacts on these resources resulting from the 
various alternatives for construction of a new rail line.
    b. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts to geology and soils, and seismic hazards, as 
appropriate.
2. Water Resources
    The EIS will:
    a. Describe the existing surface water and groundwater resources 
within the project area, including lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, 
wetlands, and

[[Page 34864]]

floodplains and analyze the potential impacts on these resources 
resulting from each alternative.
    b. Describe the permitting requirements applicable to wetlands, 
stream and river crossings, water quality, floodplains, and erosion 
control.
    c. Propose mitigative measures to avoid, minimize, or compensate 
for potential project impacts to water resources, as appropriate.
    d. Identify and evaluate potential impacts to the Su-Knik 
Mitigation Bank along the Big Lake Segment.

    Note: The Big Lake Segment would go through two mitigation bank 
parcels that are part of the Su-Knik Mitigation Bank. Use of these 
two mitigation bank parcels for the proposed rail line could require 
concurrence from the entities that created the mitigation bank or 
ROW acquisition by ARRC through eminent domain.

3. Biological Resources
    The EIS will:
    a. Evaluate the existing biological resources within the project 
area, including vegetative communities, wildlife and fisheries, and 
Federal and state threatened or endangered species and the potential 
impacts to these resources resulting from each alternative.
    b. Describe any wildlife sanctuaries, refuges, national or state 
parks, forests, or grasslands and evaluate the potential impacts to 
these resources resulting from each alternative.
    c. Propose mitigative measures to avoid, minimize, or compensate 
for potential impacts to biological resources, as appropriate.
4. Cultural and Historic Resources
    The EIS will:
    a. Analyze the potential project-related impacts to historic 
structures or districts previously recorded and determined potentially 
eligible, eligible, or listed on the National Register of Historic 
Places within or immediately adjacent to the right-of-way for the 
proposed rail alignments.
    b. Evaluate the potential impacts of each alternative to 
archaeological sites previously recorded and either listed as 
unevaluated or determined potentially eligible, eligible, or listed on 
the National Register of Historic Places within the right-of-way for 
the alternative rail alignments and the no-action alternative.
    c. Analyze the potential impacts to historic structures or 
districts or archaeological sites identified by ground survey and 
determined potentially eligible, eligible, or listed on the National 
Register of Historic Places within or immediately adjacent to the 
right-of-way for the alternative rail alignments.
    d. Evaluate the potential general impacts to paleontological 
resources in the project area due to project construction, if necessary 
and required.
    e. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts to cultural and historic resources, as appropriate.
5. Subsistence
    The EIS will:
    a. Analyze the potential impacts of the project alternatives on 
subsistence activities in the project area.
    b. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts on subsistence activities, as appropriate.
6. Air Quality
    The EIS will:
    a. Evaluate air emissions from rail operations, if the alternative 
would affect a Class I or non-attainment or maintenance area as 
designated under the Clean Air Act.
    b. Describe the potential air quality impacts resulting from new 
rail line construction activities.
    c. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts to air quality, as appropriate.
7. Noise and Vibration
    The EIS will:
    a. Describe the potential noise and vibration impacts during new 
rail line construction.
    b. Describe the potential noise and vibration impacts of rail line 
operations over new and existing rail lines.
    c. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts to sensitive noise receptors, as appropriate.
8. Energy
    The EIS will:
    a. Describe and evaluate the potential impact of the new rail line 
on the distribution and use of energy resources in the project area for 
each alternative, including petroleum and gas pipelines and overhead 
electric transmission lines.
    b. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts to energy resources, as appropriate.
9. Transportation
    The EIS will:
    a. Evaluate the potential impacts of each alternative, including 
new rail line construction and operation, on the existing 
transportation network in the project area, including vehicular delays 
at grade crossings.
    b. Describe existing road/rail grade crossing safety and analyze 
the potential for an increase in accidents related to the new rail 
operations, as appropriate.
    c. Describe existing rail operations and analyze the potential for 
increased probability of train accidents, as appropriate.
    d. Evaluate the potential for disruption and delays to the movement 
of emergency vehicles due to new rail line construction and operation 
for each alternative.
    e. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts to transportation systems, as appropriate.
10. Navigation
    The EIS will:
    a. Identify existing navigable waterways within the project area 
and analyze the potential impacts on navigability resulting from each 
alternative.
    b. Describe the permitting requirements for the various 
alternatives concerning navigation.
    c. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
impacts to navigation, as appropriate.
11. Land Use
    The EIS will:
    a. Evaluate potential impacts of each alternative on existing land 
use patterns within the project area and identify those land uses that 
would be potentially impacted by new rail line construction.
    b. Analyze the potential impacts associated with each alternative 
to land uses identified within the project area. Such potential impacts 
could include incompatibility with existing land uses and conversion of 
land to railroad uses.
    c. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
impacts to land use, as appropriate.
    d. Evaluate existing conditions and the potential impacts of the 
alternatives on recreational opportunities in the project area.
    e. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts on recreational opportunities, as appropriate.
    f. Identify and evaluate potential impacts to resources protected 
under the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) regulation known as 
``Section 4(f).'' (Note: The STB is an independent agency and is not 
subject to Section 4(f) requirements). 23 Code of Federal Regulations 
(CFR) 774 and 49 U.S.C. 303 mandate that the Secretary of 
Transportation shall not approve any

[[Page 34865]]

transportation project requiring the use of publicly owned parks, 
recreation areas or wildlife and waterfowl refuges, or significant 
historic sites, regardless of ownership, unless there is no prudent and 
feasible alternative to using that land, and the program or project 
includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the public park, 
recreation area, wildlife or waterfowl refuge, or significant site, 
resulting from that use. Because FRA is a USDOT agency, they could not 
provide funding for the project if the Board authorizes construction 
and operation of an alternative that requires the use of resources 
protected under Section 4(f) of the USDOT Act if there is a prudent and 
feasible alternative that does not use Section 4(f) resources, unless 
the use would result in de minimis impacts to Section 4(f) resources, 
which do not require avoidance.

    Note: The Willow-Connector 1-Mac West alternative would traverse 
the Willow Creek State Recreation Area, Nancy Lake State Recreation 
Area, Little Susitna Recreation River, and Susitna Flats State Game 
Refuge. The Houston North Segment would cross the Little Susitna 
Recreation River. These recreation and refuge areas are all Section 
4(f) resources and FRA funding for any rail line alternative 
affecting these resources could be prohibited.

    g. Identify sites in the proposed project area that are known to or 
might have been contaminated by hazardous materials, identify sites 
that are regulated hazardous waste facilities, and describes the 
potential impacts of constructing and operating the proposed rail line 
on or near known hazardous materials and waste sites.
12. Socioeconomics
    The EIS will:
    a. Analyze the effects of a potential influx of construction 
workers and the potential increase in demand for local services 
interrelated with natural or physical environmental effects.
    b. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project adverse impacts to social and economic resources, as 
appropriate.
13. Environmental Justice
    The EIS will:
    a. Evaluate the potential impacts of each alternative, including 
construction and operation of the rail lines, on local and regional 
minority populations and low-income populations.
    b. Propose mitigative measures to minimize or eliminate potential 
project impacts on environmental justice issues, as appropriate.
Cumulative Impacts
    The EIS will analyze cumulative impacts for the alternatives for 
the proposed construction and operation of new rail facilities on the 
human and natural environment, or in the case of the no-action 
alternative, of the lack of these activities. SEA will analyze the 
potential additive effects of the proposed action and alternatives to 
the effects on applicable resources of relevant past, present, and 
reasonably foreseeable projects or actions in the area of the proposed 
action. SEA will determine appropriate time and geographic boundaries 
for applicable resource-specific analyses in order to focus the 
cumulative impacts analysis on truly meaningful effects. Resources 
addressed may include the categories of geology and soils, water 
resources including wetlands and other waters of the U.S., biological 
resources, cultural and historic resources, subsistence, air quality, 
noise and vibration, energy resources, transportation safety and delay, 
navigation, land use, socioeconomics as they relate to physical changes 
in the environment, and environmental justice. The EIS will review all 
relevant past, concurrent, and reasonably foreseeable actions that 
could result in collectively significant impacts to each of the 
categories of impacts listed above, and to any other categories of 
impacts that may be addressed as a result of comments received during 
the scoping process or the Draft EIS comment period.

    By the Board, Victoria Rutson, Chief, Section of Environmental 
Analysis.
Kulunie L. Cannon,
Clearance Clerk.
[FR Doc. E9-17018 Filed 7-16-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4915-01-P