Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study, Virginia, 49600-49603 [2013-19623]

Download as PDF tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 49600 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 157 / Wednesday, August 14, 2013 / Notices aeronautical uses at existing airports or commercial space launch sites. Paragraph 5–6.5b (formerly 311b) adds clarification that this applies to establishment of jet routes as they are one type of federal airway. Paragraph 5–6.5c (formerly 311c) adds the example ‘‘reduction in times of use (e.g., from continuous to intermittent, or use by a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM)’’ to the list of ‘‘such as’’ actions. This clarifies that actions to return all or part of special use airspace (SUA) to the National Airspace System (NAS) includes reduction in times of use. Paragraph 5–6.5g (formerly 311g) is slightly modified to include ‘‘Required Navigation Performance’’ (RNP). It also specifies that a Noise Screening Tool or other FAA-approved environmental screening methodology should be used. Paragraph 5–6.5h (formerly 311h) is slightly modified to include ‘‘modification’’ of helicopter routes to clarify that establishment of helicopter routes also includes modification of these routes as long as they channel helicopter activity over major thoroughfares. Paragraph 5–6.5i (formerly 311i) updates reference to a Noise Screening Tool (NST) or other FAA approved environmental screening methodology. Paragraph 5–6.6b is modified to provide clarity that the categorical exclusion applies to an aerobatic practice area containing one aerobatic practice box in accordance with 1050.1E Guidance Memo #5, Clarification of FAA Order 1050.1E CATEX 312b to Aerobatic Actions. Change 18 revises the discussion of EA format and process to streamline the explanation of each element and clarify that an EA should be concise and focused and should not be as detailed as an EIS (see Paragraph 6–2). Since this section has been reduced in detail, there are cross-references to the corresponding EIS sections for environmental assessments that may need to be more substantial. Change 19 revises the language in notices soliciting public comment on draft EAs and draft EISs, stating that personal information provided by commenters (e.g., addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses) may be made publicly available (see Paragraphs 6–2.2.e and 7–1.2.d(1)(a)). Change 20 adds a new paragraph to explain the conditions under which the FAA may choose to terminate preparation of an EIS and clarifies what steps the FAA should take when this situation occurs (see Paragraph 7–1.3). Change 21 adds a discussion of FAA policy with respect to consideration of VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Aug 13, 2013 Jkt 229001 transboundary impacts resulting from FAA actions (see Paragraph 8–3). Change 22 updates the discussion of international actions to be consistent with DOT Order 5610.1, including guidance on coordination within the FAA/DOT and U.S. State Department when communication with foreign governments is needed (see Paragraph 8–4). Change 23 clarifies the alternative process to consider environmental impacts before taking emergency actions necessary to protect the lives and safety of the public in emergency circumstances. These alternative arrangements are limited to actions necessary to control the immediate impacts of an emergency. Order 1050.1F expands this section to provide for emergency procedures when a CATEX or EA would be the appropriate level of NEPA review (see Paragraph 8–5). Change 24 clarifies and expands on requirements relating to FAA adoption of other agencies’ NEPA documents (see Paragraph 8–7). Clarifies requirements for legal sufficiency review of adopted documents and when this review is required (see Paragraph 8–7.d). Also adds a discussion of recirculation requirements for EISs to highlight that there are some circumstances in which adopted documents must be recirculated (see Paragraph 8–7.f). Change 25 clarifies that there is no specified format for written reevaluations. It also adds a statement to explain that written re-evaluations may be prepared even when they are not required. In addition, this section also adds a discussion of combining decision documents with written re-evaluations (i.e., a ‘‘WR/ROD’’) (see Paragraph 9–2). Change 26 streamlines, consolidates, and clarifies provisions relating to review, approval, and signature authority for FAA NEPA documents (see Chapter 10). Change 27 revises text in Paragraph 11–2 to clarify the authority of various parties and to be consistent with other FAA Orders (see Paragraph 11–2). Change 28 clarifies provisions relating to explanatory guidance (see Paragraph 11–4). Change 29 adds definitions of ‘‘NEPA lead’’ and ‘‘special purpose laws and requirements.’’ It deletes the definition of ‘‘Environmental Due Diligence Audit’’ because this term is no longer used in FAA Order 1050.1F. Definitions of ‘‘environmental studies’’, ‘‘approving official’’, and ‘‘decisionmaker’’ are revised to reflect current practice. The definition of ‘‘launch facility’’ is changed to ‘‘commercial space launch site’’ to be consistent with 14 CFR part 420. The definition of ‘‘noise sensitive PO 00000 Frm 00157 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 area’’ is revised to include a reference to Table 1 of 14 CFR part 150 rather than Appendix A of FAA Order 1050.1E, to provide context in light of the removal of Appendix A from proposed Order 1050.1F. (See Paragraph 11–5.b). Issued in Washington, DC, on August 9, 2013. Lourdes Q. Maurice, Executive Director, Office of Environment and Energy. [FR Doc. 2013–19734 Filed 8–13–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Transit Administration Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study, Virginia Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT. ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement. AGENCY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) are planning to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study (VBTES). The VBTES will examine extending transit service from the eastern terminus of Norfolk’s existing Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, ‘‘The Tide,’’ at Newtown Road to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront either along the former Norfolk Southern Railroad right-of-way (NSRR ROW) that runs from Newtown Road to Birdneck Road or along the NSRR ROW to Laskin Road then onto Birdneck Road. From Birdneck Road, both alignments would extend onto 19th Street terminating at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. In 2000, FTA and HRT prepared the Norfolk-Virginia Beach East/West Light Rail Transit System Final EIS. This document looked at an 18-mile transit system connecting downtown Norfolk to the Pavilion area of Virginia Beach. In 2009, FTA and HRT began a Supplemental EIS for the VBTES that intended to evaluate changes in the project corridor since the 2000 EIS. As the Supplemental EIS progressed, FTA and HRT began studying an additional alternative alignment along Laskin Road. This alternative alignment and the additional amount of time that elapsed since work began on the Supplemental EIS led FTA to determine that a Supplemental EIS was no longer appropriate for the VBTES and instead a new EIS should be prepared. Pursuant SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\14AUN1.SGM 14AUN1 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 157 / Wednesday, August 14, 2013 / Notices to 23 CFR 771.123(a), FTA and HRT now issue this Notice of Intent (NOI) for an EIS for the VBTES. Although the VBTES has been under consideration in some form since the 1980’s, and was included in the 2000 Final EIS, this EIS will specifically rely on relevant information that has been developed over the last several years since the 2009 Supplemental EIS was proposed. The EIS for the VBTES will be prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This NOI initiates formal scoping for the EIS, invites interested parties to participate in the process, provides information about the purpose and need for the study, includes the alternatives being considered for evaluation in the EIS, and identifies potential environmental effects to be considered. HRT began its VBTES public involvement process in 2009. It held frequent public meetings in 2010, 2012, and 2013, and continues to receive public comments on the study today. HRT plans additional public meetings for September 2013 and November 2013. These continued opportunities for public involvement in the VBTES means no formal public scoping meetings are planned to be held for this EIS. In 2009 and 2013, HRT, in coordination with FTA, contacted interested party agencies for the VBTES. As such, agencies that have previously responded to invitations to engage in the VBTES process will remain as interested parties on the study and are not required to formally respond to this notice. DATES: Written comments on the scope of reasonable alternatives and impacts to be considered in the EIS must be sent to HRT as indicated below. Written comments must be received no later than September 13, 2013. ADDRESSES: Written comments should be sent to Ms. Marie Arnt, Public Outreach Coordinator, Hampton Roads Transit, 509 E. 18th Street, Norfolk, VA 23504, by email to marnt@hrtransit.org, or through HRT’s Web site at www.gohrt.com/about/development/ vbtes. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Ryan Long, FTA Community Planner, phone: (215) 656–7051. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Proposed Project: HRT is proposing to extend transit service from the eastern terminus of Norfolk’s existing LRT system, ‘‘The Tide,’’ at Newtown Road to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. The service extension will operate as a fixed guideway transit VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Aug 13, 2013 Jkt 229001 system within the primary east-west transportation corridor in the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia. A fixed guideway transit system operates on a separate right-of-way that is exclusive for transit or other high-occupancy vehicles. The VBTES will evaluate alternatives for this service extension, including LRT and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The final alignment, number of stations and their locations, and specific eastern and western termini will be determined through the EIS process. HRT is intending to seek Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program funding from FTA for one or more of the alternatives that will be examined in the EIS. The CIG program, more commonly known as the New Starts, Small Starts, and Core Capacity program, involves a multi-year, multi-step process that project sponsors must complete before a project is eligible for funding. The steps in the process and the basic requirements of the program can be found on FTA’s Web site at www.fta.dot.gov. Purposes of and Need for the Project: The purpose of the VBTES is to provide an efficient, integrated, and multimodal system of public transit that: • Provides an efficient transportation option independent of traffic congestion; • Supports a dynamic local and regional economy by responding to existing and future travel needs; • Maintains or enhances livable communities within the project study corridor; and • Complements planned local growth initiatives and strategies. The City of Virginia Beach and the region need VBTES to improve personal mobility and to reduce traffic congestion in ways that are safe and reliable and that support future planned growth. Four decades of significant growth in population, employment, and tourism in the City of Virginia Beach has led to increased traffic and congestion on existing roadways serving the study area. Daily and commute trips by motorists and transit users have grown longer resulting in congestion and delays in both morning and evening peak periods in the primary east-west transportation corridor through the City of Virginia Beach. This corridor is defined by I–264, Virginia Beach Boulevard, Laskin Road, and the former NSRR ROW. The area within the corridor is largely developed. There are limited transit opportunities with the existing bus system which shares these congested roadways. In addition, the Virginia Beach Oceanfront resort area is a primary vacation destination for the PO 00000 Frm 00158 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 49601 entire Commonwealth of Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region. Non-work trips to access the Virginia Beach Oceanfront area during the period of May through September lead to increased congestion and travel delays for visitors as well as for residents making work and nonwork trips. These recreational trips originate from both within and outside the region. Numerous transportation system planning studies have been completed for the Hampton Roads Region and the City of Virginia Beach that have examined the feasibility of providing additional transit service in the eastwest corridor. These studies were conducted with full public participation. Each study identified the need to provide an efficient, safe, economical, and balanced transportation system (with auto, transit, and non-motorized modes of travel) that would minimize the impact to the environment and would complement the community’s development patterns. Development of a fixed-guideway transit system through Virginia Beach’s east-west corridor is discussed in the following studies: HRT/Hampton Roads Regional Planning District Commission Plans: • HRTPO Hampton Roads 2034 Long Range Transportation Plan (2012) • Hampton Roads Regional Transit Vision Plan (2011) • HRPDC Hampton Roads 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan (2006) • Norfolk to Virginia Beach Light Rail Transit Final EIS (2000) • Virginia Beach Corridor Major Investment Study (1995) • The Rail Systems Analysis and Fixed Guideway Service Plan (1991) • Planning for Restoration of Rail Passenger Service (1988) • Study of the Cost Effectiveness of Restoring Rail Passenger Service (1986) City of Virginia Beach Plans: • Hilltop Strategic Growth Area (SGA) Master Plan (2012) • Lynnhaven SGA Master Plan (2012) • Rosemont SGA Master Plan (2011) • Newtown SGA Master Plan (2010) • Pembroke SGA Implementation Plan (2009) • Virginia Beach Comprehensive Plan (2009) • Virginia Beach Oceanfront Resort Area Plan (2005) • Virginia Beach Central Business District Final Master Plan (1991) The HRT/Hampton Roads Regional Planning District Commission longrange plans are available for review at the HRT Web site (www.gohrt.com) and the Hampton Roads Planning District E:\FR\FM\14AUN1.SGM 14AUN1 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 49602 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 157 / Wednesday, August 14, 2013 / Notices Commission Web site (www.hrpdc.org). The City of Virginia Beach’s plans are available on its Web site (www.vbgov.com). Alternatives: The EIS will consider build and no-build alternatives to determine which would best serve the study area. The EIS will also include descriptions of alternatives considered for evaluation but which were determined not to be reasonable and therefore will not be carried forward for evaluation in detail in the EIS. The build alternatives being carried into the EIS will include LRT and BRT technologies. In the VBTES, the fixed guideway alignment options for the build alternative(s) are: • Newtown Road to the Rosemont area; • Newtown Road to the Oceanfront along the former NSRR ROW; and • Newtown Road to the Oceanfront partially along Laskin and Birdneck Roads. The implementation of a fixed guideway alternative would require the location and construction of stations and park-and-ride facilities and may require a vehicle storage and maintenance facility. Stations would be located at intervals that provide service to key activity centers in the study corridor. The EIS will consider reasonable and feasible alternative locations and configurations identified for each of these facilities during the study process. The EIS will collect and assess information for each alternative in order to evaluate and compare potential benefits and impacts. This will include such information as: • Station locations; • Ridership Forecasts; • Construction and Operation Costs (including utility relocations); • Impacts to natural resources (including wetlands, protected species, air quality); and • Impacts to the community and historic resources (including traffic, noise, businesses, residences, community resources). No Build Alternative: The No-Build Alternative serves as the NEPA baseline against which environmental effects of other alternatives, including the proposed project once one is identified, will be measured. The No-Build Alternative will include roadway and transit facility and service improvements (other than the Build Alternatives) planned, programmed and included in the Financially Constrained Regional Transportation Plan to be implemented by the Year 2040. The No Build Alternative will include minor VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Aug 13, 2013 Jkt 229001 transit service expansions and/or adjustments that reflect a continuation of existing service policies as identified by HRT. Probable Effects/Potential Impacts for Analysis: HRT anticipates the VBTES will result in a preferred build alternative with beneficial travel and economic development effects but may have some adverse environmental effects. The proposed build alternative would result in travel time savings for existing transit patrons and gain new transit users who switch from automobiles, while offering a broader range of transportation options for Virginia Beach and the region. It will also support economic development and land use goals of the City of Virginia Beach as identified in its Comprehensive Plan and Strategic Growth Area plans. The proposed build alternative would also contribute to goals of reducing growth in vehicle miles traveled and emissions, including greenhouse gases. The purpose of the EIS is to explore in a public setting the effects of the proposed project and its alternatives on the human and natural environment. FTA and HRT will evaluate the potential social, economic, and environmental impacts of the construction and operation of the proposed project. Impact areas to be addressed include: transportation; land use, zoning, and economic development; secondary development; land acquisition, visual impacts, displacements and relocations; cultural resources, including impacts on historical and archaeological resources and parklands/recreation areas; neighborhood compatibility and environmental justice; natural resource impacts including air quality, wetlands, and water resources; noise and vibration; energy use; safety and security; and wildlife and ecosystems, including endangered species. Reasonable measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate adverse impacts will be identified and evaluated. Potential impacts are likely to be limited primarily to social and economic impacts associated with development of a fixed guideway transit project. These impacts include enhanced development opportunities and changes in zoning and local plans related to station area development. Such changes will be coordinated with the City of Virginia Beach’s comprehensive plan and Strategic Growth Area plans. Property acquisition and displacement may occur because of the development of park-and-ride facilities, alignments utilizing city street rights-of-way, and/or placement of PO 00000 Frm 00159 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 traction power substations (if needed). Minimal, primarily short-term (e.g., construction), impacts may occur to wetlands and/or surface waters. Construction impacts may disrupt travel and access to businesses and/or residences on a short term basis. Role of Agencies and the Public: NEPA, and FTA’s regulations implementing NEPA, calls for public involvement in the EIS process. FTA and HRT will continue to provide a substantial level of public involvement throughout the EIS process, including open house meetings, newsletters, and outreach to city civic leagues and businesses. However, no formal public meetings are planned for the scoping period associated with this NOI due to the extensive previous public meetings hosted by HRT. Specifically related to public and agency involvement, FTA and HRT will (1) extend an invitation to other Federal and non-Federal agencies and Indian tribes that may have an interest in the proposed project to become ‘‘participating agencies’’; (2) provide an opportunity for involvement by participating agencies and the public in helping to define the purpose and need for a proposed project, as well as the range of alternatives for consideration in the EIS; and (3) establish a plan for coordinating public and agency participation in, and comment on, the environmental review process. A comprehensive public involvement program has been developed for the VBTES and is posted on the project Web site at www.gohrt.com. The public involvement program includes a full range of involvement activities including the project Web site; outreach to local officials, community and civic groups, and the public; and development and distribution of project newsletters. Specific mechanisms for involvement are detailed in the public involvement program. The public and participating agencies are invited to consider and comment on this preliminary statement of the purpose and need for the proposed Virginia Beach alternatives. Suggestions for modifications to the statement of purpose and need for the proposed project are welcome and will be given serious consideration. Comments on potential environmental impacts that may be associated with the proposed alternatives are also welcome. There will be additional opportunities to participate in the study process at future public meetings. FTA and HRT will comply with all applicable Federal environmental laws, regulations, and executive orders during the environmental review process. E:\FR\FM\14AUN1.SGM 14AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 157 / Wednesday, August 14, 2013 / Notices These requirements include, but are not limited to, the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500–1508) and FTA’s own NEPA regulations (23 CFR part 771); the air quality conformity regulations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (40 CFR part 93); the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines of EPA (40 CFR part 230); the regulations implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (36 CFR part 800); the regulations implementing Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (50 CFR part 402); Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act (23 CFR part 774); Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice, 11988 on floodplain management, and 11990 on wetlands; and DOT Order 5610.2(a) on Environmental Justice. Paperwork Reduction: The Paperwork Reduction Act seeks, in part, to minimize the cost to the taxpayer of the creation, collection, maintenance, use, dissemination, and disposition of information. Consistent with this goal and with principles of economy and efficiency in government, it is FTA policy to limit insofar as possible distribution of complete printed sets of NEPA documents. Accordingly, unless a specific request for a complete printed set of the NEPA document is received before the document is printed, FTA and HRT will distribute only electronic copies of the NEPA document. A complete printed set of the environmental document will be available for review at HRT’s offices; an electronic copy of the complete environmental document will be available on the HRT’s Web site (www.gohrt.com). Brigid Hynes-Cherin, Regional Administrator. [FR Doc. 2013–19623 Filed 8–13–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Maritime Administration [USCG–2003–14294] tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port Decommissioning and License Termination Maritime Administration, DOT. Public Notice; Final Agency Approval of the Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port Decommissioning and License Termination. AGENCY: ACTION: The Maritime Administration (MARAD) announces its final clearance SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:16 Aug 13, 2013 Jkt 229001 and authorization of the decommissioning of the Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port and termination of the Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port License (License), effective as of June 28, 2013. Pursuant to Section 1503(h) of the Deepwater Port Act of 1974, as amended, a License may remain in effect until such time as it is either suspended or revoked by the Secretary of Transportation or surrendered by the licensee. For purposes of this agency action, MARAD has granted as of June 28, 2013, final clearance of the completed decommissioning of the Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port facility, and approved termination of the official License and all other conditions and obligations set forth by the License. DATES: The date of termination of the License and all actions related to this action is effective as of June 28, 2013. ADDRESSES: The Docket Management Facility maintains the public docket for this project. The docket may be viewed electronically at http:// www.regulations.gov under docket number USCG–2003–14294, or in person at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M– 30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions about the Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port project, contact Ms. Tracey Ford, Acting Office Director, Office of Deepwater Ports and Offshore Activities at (202) 366–0321 or Tracey.Ford@dot.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: By letter dated February 21, 2011, Excelerate Energy LP (Excelerate) notified MARAD and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) of its intention to decommission the Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port, located 116 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Excelerate’s decision to decommission the Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port was due primarily to declining pipeline capacity issues, significant operational challenges, and changes in the global natural gas market. In accordance with Article 20 of the License, Excelerate is required to decommission its deepwater port in compliance with the decommissioning plans approved by the Maritime Administrator and in accordance with applicable Federal regulations and guidelines in place at the time of decommissioning. The License further requires that MARAD approval be granted in concurrence with other relevant Federal agencies. This requirement was satisfied on April 14, 2012, and Excelerate was granted authorization by MARAD to proceed with its planned decommissioning PO 00000 Frm 00160 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 49603 activities. Excelerate completed the final decommissioning process on March 14, 2013. At the end of the decommissioning process, all components of the Gulf Gateway facility were removed and the connecting pipelines were decommissioned inplace, in accordance with applicable Federal regulations. As of the date of this notice, MARAD concurred that all decommissioning activities for the Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port have been completed, and approved termination of the official License and other related License obligations. This Federal Register Notice completes the final close-out and termination procedures for the Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port and License. No further action will be undertaken by MARAD. Additional information pertaining to the Gulf Gateway Deepwater Port project may be found in the public docket at www.regulations.gov under docket number USCG–2003–14294. Authority: 49 CFR 1.66 By order of the Maritime Administrator Dated: August 8, 2013. Julie P. Agarwal, Secretary, Maritime Administration. [FR Doc. 2013–19687 Filed 8–13–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–81–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Surface Transportation Board [Docket No. AB 290 (Sub-No. 347X)] Norfolk Southern Railway Company— Abandonment Exemption—in Marengo County, Ala Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NSR) has filed a verified notice of exemption under 49 CFR part 1152 subpart F—Exempt Abandonments to abandon approximately 0.8 miles of rail line between milepost 241.3 N (east of the line’s crossing of the mouth of Devil’s Run Slough where the slough joins the Black Warrior River) and milepost 242.1 N (near the intersection of Nash Ave. and E. Franklin St., in Demopolis), in Marengo County, Ala.1 The line traverses United States Postal Service Zip Code 36925. NSR has certified that: (1) No local traffic has moved over the line for at least two years; (2) no overhead traffic 1 NSR states that it is seeking abandonment to permit the removal of the remaining portion of the railroad bridge over the mouth of Devil’s Run Slough at the request of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), because USCG views the bridge structure as an impediment to waterway navigation. E:\FR\FM\14AUN1.SGM 14AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 157 (Wednesday, August 14, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 49600-49603]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-19623]


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

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study, Virginia

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.

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

SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Hampton Roads 
Transit (HRT) are planning to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS) for the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study (VBTES). The VBTES 
will examine extending transit service from the eastern terminus of 
Norfolk's existing Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, ``The Tide,'' at 
Newtown Road to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront either along the former 
Norfolk Southern Railroad right-of-way (NSRR ROW) that runs from 
Newtown Road to Birdneck Road or along the NSRR ROW to Laskin Road then 
onto Birdneck Road. From Birdneck Road, both alignments would extend 
onto 19th Street terminating at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
    In 2000, FTA and HRT prepared the Norfolk-Virginia Beach East/West 
Light Rail Transit System Final EIS. This document looked at an 18-mile 
transit system connecting downtown Norfolk to the Pavilion area of 
Virginia Beach. In 2009, FTA and HRT began a Supplemental EIS for the 
VBTES that intended to evaluate changes in the project corridor since 
the 2000 EIS. As the Supplemental EIS progressed, FTA and HRT began 
studying an additional alternative alignment along Laskin Road. This 
alternative alignment and the additional amount of time that elapsed 
since work began on the Supplemental EIS led FTA to determine that a 
Supplemental EIS was no longer appropriate for the VBTES and instead a 
new EIS should be prepared. Pursuant

[[Page 49601]]

to 23 CFR 771.123(a), FTA and HRT now issue this Notice of Intent (NOI) 
for an EIS for the VBTES. Although the VBTES has been under 
consideration in some form since the 1980's, and was included in the 
2000 Final EIS, this EIS will specifically rely on relevant information 
that has been developed over the last several years since the 2009 
Supplemental EIS was proposed.
    The EIS for the VBTES will be prepared in accordance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This NOI initiates formal 
scoping for the EIS, invites interested parties to participate in the 
process, provides information about the purpose and need for the study, 
includes the alternatives being considered for evaluation in the EIS, 
and identifies potential environmental effects to be considered.
    HRT began its VBTES public involvement process in 2009. It held 
frequent public meetings in 2010, 2012, and 2013, and continues to 
receive public comments on the study today. HRT plans additional public 
meetings for September 2013 and November 2013. These continued 
opportunities for public involvement in the VBTES means no formal 
public scoping meetings are planned to be held for this EIS.
    In 2009 and 2013, HRT, in coordination with FTA, contacted 
interested party agencies for the VBTES. As such, agencies that have 
previously responded to invitations to engage in the VBTES process will 
remain as interested parties on the study and are not required to 
formally respond to this notice.

DATES: Written comments on the scope of reasonable alternatives and 
impacts to be considered in the EIS must be sent to HRT as indicated 
below. Written comments must be received no later than September 13, 
2013.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be sent to Ms. Marie Arnt, Public 
Outreach Coordinator, Hampton Roads Transit, 509 E. 18th Street, 
Norfolk, VA 23504, by email to marnt@hrtransit.org, or through HRT's 
Web site at www.gohrt.com/about/development/vbtes.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Ryan Long, FTA Community Planner, 
phone: (215) 656-7051.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    The Proposed Project: HRT is proposing to extend transit service 
from the eastern terminus of Norfolk's existing LRT system, ``The 
Tide,'' at Newtown Road to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. The service 
extension will operate as a fixed guideway transit system within the 
primary east-west transportation corridor in the City of Virginia 
Beach, Virginia. A fixed guideway transit system operates on a separate 
right-of-way that is exclusive for transit or other high-occupancy 
vehicles. The VBTES will evaluate alternatives for this service 
extension, including LRT and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The final 
alignment, number of stations and their locations, and specific eastern 
and western termini will be determined through the EIS process.
    HRT is intending to seek Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program 
funding from FTA for one or more of the alternatives that will be 
examined in the EIS. The CIG program, more commonly known as the New 
Starts, Small Starts, and Core Capacity program, involves a multi-year, 
multi-step process that project sponsors must complete before a project 
is eligible for funding. The steps in the process and the basic 
requirements of the program can be found on FTA's Web site at 
www.fta.dot.gov.
    Purposes of and Need for the Project: The purpose of the VBTES is 
to provide an efficient, integrated, and multimodal system of public 
transit that:
     Provides an efficient transportation option independent of 
traffic congestion;
     Supports a dynamic local and regional economy by 
responding to existing and future travel needs;
     Maintains or enhances livable communities within the 
project study corridor; and
     Complements planned local growth initiatives and 
strategies.
    The City of Virginia Beach and the region need VBTES to improve 
personal mobility and to reduce traffic congestion in ways that are 
safe and reliable and that support future planned growth. Four decades 
of significant growth in population, employment, and tourism in the 
City of Virginia Beach has led to increased traffic and congestion on 
existing roadways serving the study area. Daily and commute trips by 
motorists and transit users have grown longer resulting in congestion 
and delays in both morning and evening peak periods in the primary 
east-west transportation corridor through the City of Virginia Beach. 
This corridor is defined by I-264, Virginia Beach Boulevard, Laskin 
Road, and the former NSRR ROW.
    The area within the corridor is largely developed. There are 
limited transit opportunities with the existing bus system which shares 
these congested roadways. In addition, the Virginia Beach Oceanfront 
resort area is a primary vacation destination for the entire 
Commonwealth of Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region. Non-work trips to 
access the Virginia Beach Oceanfront area during the period of May 
through September lead to increased congestion and travel delays for 
visitors as well as for residents making work and non-work trips. These 
recreational trips originate from both within and outside the region.
    Numerous transportation system planning studies have been completed 
for the Hampton Roads Region and the City of Virginia Beach that have 
examined the feasibility of providing additional transit service in the 
east-west corridor. These studies were conducted with full public 
participation. Each study identified the need to provide an efficient, 
safe, economical, and balanced transportation system (with auto, 
transit, and non-motorized modes of travel) that would minimize the 
impact to the environment and would complement the community's 
development patterns. Development of a fixed-guideway transit system 
through Virginia Beach's east-west corridor is discussed in the 
following studies:
    HRT/Hampton Roads Regional Planning District Commission Plans:

 HRTPO Hampton Roads 2034 Long Range Transportation Plan (2012)
 Hampton Roads Regional Transit Vision Plan (2011)
 HRPDC Hampton Roads 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan (2006)
 Norfolk to Virginia Beach Light Rail Transit Final EIS (2000)
 Virginia Beach Corridor Major Investment Study (1995)
 The Rail Systems Analysis and Fixed Guideway Service Plan 
(1991)
 Planning for Restoration of Rail Passenger Service (1988)
 Study of the Cost Effectiveness of Restoring Rail Passenger 
Service (1986)

    City of Virginia Beach Plans:

 Hilltop Strategic Growth Area (SGA) Master Plan (2012)
 Lynnhaven SGA Master Plan (2012)
 Rosemont SGA Master Plan (2011)
 Newtown SGA Master Plan (2010)
 Pembroke SGA Implementation Plan (2009)
 Virginia Beach Comprehensive Plan (2009)
 Virginia Beach Oceanfront Resort Area Plan (2005)
 Virginia Beach Central Business District Final Master Plan 
(1991)

    The HRT/Hampton Roads Regional Planning District Commission long-
range plans are available for review at the HRT Web site 
(www.gohrt.com) and the Hampton Roads Planning District

[[Page 49602]]

Commission Web site (www.hrpdc.org). The City of Virginia Beach's plans 
are available on its Web site (www.vbgov.com).
    Alternatives: The EIS will consider build and no-build alternatives 
to determine which would best serve the study area. The EIS will also 
include descriptions of alternatives considered for evaluation but 
which were determined not to be reasonable and therefore will not be 
carried forward for evaluation in detail in the EIS. The build 
alternatives being carried into the EIS will include LRT and BRT 
technologies.
    In the VBTES, the fixed guideway alignment options for the build 
alternative(s) are:
     Newtown Road to the Rosemont area;
     Newtown Road to the Oceanfront along the former NSRR ROW; 
and
     Newtown Road to the Oceanfront partially along Laskin and 
Birdneck Roads.
    The implementation of a fixed guideway alternative would require 
the location and construction of stations and park-and-ride facilities 
and may require a vehicle storage and maintenance facility. Stations 
would be located at intervals that provide service to key activity 
centers in the study corridor. The EIS will consider reasonable and 
feasible alternative locations and configurations identified for each 
of these facilities during the study process.
    The EIS will collect and assess information for each alternative in 
order to evaluate and compare potential benefits and impacts. This will 
include such information as:
     Station locations;
     Ridership Forecasts;
     Construction and Operation Costs (including utility 
relocations);
     Impacts to natural resources (including wetlands, 
protected species, air quality); and
     Impacts to the community and historic resources (including 
traffic, noise, businesses, residences, community resources).
    No Build Alternative: The No-Build Alternative serves as the NEPA 
baseline against which environmental effects of other alternatives, 
including the proposed project once one is identified, will be 
measured. The No-Build Alternative will include roadway and transit 
facility and service improvements (other than the Build Alternatives) 
planned, programmed and included in the Financially Constrained 
Regional Transportation Plan to be implemented by the Year 2040. The No 
Build Alternative will include minor transit service expansions and/or 
adjustments that reflect a continuation of existing service policies as 
identified by HRT.
    Probable Effects/Potential Impacts for Analysis: HRT anticipates 
the VBTES will result in a preferred build alternative with beneficial 
travel and economic development effects but may have some adverse 
environmental effects. The proposed build alternative would result in 
travel time savings for existing transit patrons and gain new transit 
users who switch from automobiles, while offering a broader range of 
transportation options for Virginia Beach and the region. It will also 
support economic development and land use goals of the City of Virginia 
Beach as identified in its Comprehensive Plan and Strategic Growth Area 
plans. The proposed build alternative would also contribute to goals of 
reducing growth in vehicle miles traveled and emissions, including 
greenhouse gases.
    The purpose of the EIS is to explore in a public setting the 
effects of the proposed project and its alternatives on the human and 
natural environment. FTA and HRT will evaluate the potential social, 
economic, and environmental impacts of the construction and operation 
of the proposed project. Impact areas to be addressed include: 
transportation; land use, zoning, and economic development; secondary 
development; land acquisition, visual impacts, displacements and 
relocations; cultural resources, including impacts on historical and 
archaeological resources and parklands/recreation areas; neighborhood 
compatibility and environmental justice; natural resource impacts 
including air quality, wetlands, and water resources; noise and 
vibration; energy use; safety and security; and wildlife and 
ecosystems, including endangered species. Reasonable measures to avoid, 
minimize, and mitigate adverse impacts will be identified and 
evaluated.
    Potential impacts are likely to be limited primarily to social and 
economic impacts associated with development of a fixed guideway 
transit project. These impacts include enhanced development 
opportunities and changes in zoning and local plans related to station 
area development. Such changes will be coordinated with the City of 
Virginia Beach's comprehensive plan and Strategic Growth Area plans. 
Property acquisition and displacement may occur because of the 
development of park-and-ride facilities, alignments utilizing city 
street rights-of-way, and/or placement of traction power substations 
(if needed). Minimal, primarily short-term (e.g., construction), 
impacts may occur to wetlands and/or surface waters. Construction 
impacts may disrupt travel and access to businesses and/or residences 
on a short term basis.
    Role of Agencies and the Public: NEPA, and FTA's regulations 
implementing NEPA, calls for public involvement in the EIS process. FTA 
and HRT will continue to provide a substantial level of public 
involvement throughout the EIS process, including open house meetings, 
newsletters, and outreach to city civic leagues and businesses. 
However, no formal public meetings are planned for the scoping period 
associated with this NOI due to the extensive previous public meetings 
hosted by HRT. Specifically related to public and agency involvement, 
FTA and HRT will (1) extend an invitation to other Federal and non-
Federal agencies and Indian tribes that may have an interest in the 
proposed project to become ``participating agencies''; (2) provide an 
opportunity for involvement by participating agencies and the public in 
helping to define the purpose and need for a proposed project, as well 
as the range of alternatives for consideration in the EIS; and (3) 
establish a plan for coordinating public and agency participation in, 
and comment on, the environmental review process.
    A comprehensive public involvement program has been developed for 
the VBTES and is posted on the project Web site at www.gohrt.com. The 
public involvement program includes a full range of involvement 
activities including the project Web site; outreach to local officials, 
community and civic groups, and the public; and development and 
distribution of project newsletters. Specific mechanisms for 
involvement are detailed in the public involvement program.
    The public and participating agencies are invited to consider and 
comment on this preliminary statement of the purpose and need for the 
proposed Virginia Beach alternatives. Suggestions for modifications to 
the statement of purpose and need for the proposed project are welcome 
and will be given serious consideration. Comments on potential 
environmental impacts that may be associated with the proposed 
alternatives are also welcome. There will be additional opportunities 
to participate in the study process at future public meetings.
    FTA and HRT will comply with all applicable Federal environmental 
laws, regulations, and executive orders during the environmental review 
process.

[[Page 49603]]

These requirements include, but are not limited to, the regulations of 
the Council on Environmental Quality implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 
1500-1508) and FTA's own NEPA regulations (23 CFR part 771); the air 
quality conformity regulations of the U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA) (40 CFR part 93); the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines of EPA 
(40 CFR part 230); the regulations implementing Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act (36 CFR part 800); the regulations 
implementing Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (50 CFR part 402); 
Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act (23 CFR part 774); 
Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice, 11988 on floodplain 
management, and 11990 on wetlands; and DOT Order 5610.2(a) on 
Environmental Justice.
    Paperwork Reduction: The Paperwork Reduction Act seeks, in part, to 
minimize the cost to the taxpayer of the creation, collection, 
maintenance, use, dissemination, and disposition of information. 
Consistent with this goal and with principles of economy and efficiency 
in government, it is FTA policy to limit insofar as possible 
distribution of complete printed sets of NEPA documents. Accordingly, 
unless a specific request for a complete printed set of the NEPA 
document is received before the document is printed, FTA and HRT will 
distribute only electronic copies of the NEPA document. A complete 
printed set of the environmental document will be available for review 
at HRT's offices; an electronic copy of the complete environmental 
document will be available on the HRT's Web site (www.gohrt.com).

Brigid Hynes-Cherin,
Regional Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2013-19623 Filed 8-13-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P