Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement for the Chicago to Joliet High-Speed Rail Project, Cook and Will counties, Illinois, 9306-9309 [2014-03325]

Download as PDF 9306 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 32 / Tuesday, February 18, 2014 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Office of the Secretary Federal Railroad Administration Notice of Applications for Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity and Foreign Air Carrier Permits Filed Under Subpart B (Formerly Subpart Q) During the Week Ending February 1, 2014 Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement for the Chicago to Joliet High-Speed Rail Project, Cook and Will counties, Illinois tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES The following Applications for Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity and Foreign Air Carrier Permits were filed under Subpart B (formerly Subpart Q) of the Department of Transportation’s Procedural Regulations (See 14 CFR 301.201 et. seq.). The due date for Answers, Conforming Applications, or Motions to Modify Scope are set forth below for each application. Following the Answer period DOT may process the application by expedited procedures. Such procedures may consist of the adoption of a show-cause order, a tentative order, or in appropriate cases a final order without further proceedings. Docket Number: DOT–OST–2014– 0012. Date Filed: January 28, 2014. Due Date for Answers, Conforming Applications, or Motion to Modify Scope: February 18, 2014. Description: Application of Eastern Air Lines Group, Inc. (‘‘Eastern’’) requesting a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing Eastern to engage in interstate charter air transportation of persons, property and mail. Docket Number: DOT–OST–2014– 0013. Date Filed: January 28, 2014. Due Date for Answers, Conforming Applications, or Motion to Modify Scope: February 18, 2014. Description: Application of Eastern Air Lines Group, Inc. (Eastern) requesting a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing Eastern to engage in foreign charter air transportation of persons, property and mail. Barbara J. Hairston, Supervisory Dockets Officer, Docket Operations, Federal Register Liaison. [FR Doc. 2014–03416 Filed 2–14–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–9X–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 20:58 Feb 14, 2014 Jkt 232001 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of Transportation (DOT). AGENCY: Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). ACTION: FRA issues this Notice of Intent (Notice) to advise the public that FRA and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will jointly prepare a Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Chicago to Joliet High-Speed Rail (HSR) Project (Project). The EIS will evaluate environmental and related impacts of upgrading the rail system and associated infrastructure between the Chicago, IL Union Station and the Joliet, IL Union Station to implement high-speed passenger rail service, increase rail capacity, and improve reliability for identified incremental service additions. FRA issues this Notice to solicit public and agency input into the development of the scope of the EIS and to advise the public that outreach activities conducted by FRA and IDOT will be considered in the preparation of the EIS. To ensure all significant issues are identified and considered, the public, governmental agencies, and all other interested parties are invited to comment on the scope of the EIS, including the purpose and need, alternatives to be considered, impacts to be evaluated, and methodologies to be used in the evaluation. SUMMARY: Written comments on the scope of the EIS should be provided to IDOT within thirty (30) days of the publication of this Notice, at the address listed below. Comments may also be provided orally or in writing at the scoping meetings for the Project. Scoping meeting dates, times and locations, in addition to Project information can be found online on the FRA Web site at https://www.fra.dot.gov and on the Project Web site at www.idothsr.org. Three scoping meetings will be held during February 2014. These meetings will be advertised locally and are scheduled for the following locations on the dates indicated below from 4 p.m.–7 p.m. • February 24, 2014: Chicago Union Station, The Union Gallery, 500 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60661. DATES: PO 00000 Frm 00150 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 • February 26, 2014: Jacob Henry Mansion, Victorian Ballroom, 15 S. Richards Street, Joliet, IL 60433. • February 27, 2014: Homewood Suites by Hilton Orland Park, 6245 S La Grange Road, Orland Park, IL 60467. ADDRESSES: Written comments on the scope of the EIS should be mailed or emailed within thirty (30) days of the publication of this Notice to Mr. John Oimoen, Deputy Director, Department of Intermodal and Public Transit, Illinois Department of Transportation, 100 West Randolph Street, Suite 6–600, Chicago, Illinois 60601, john.oimoen@ illinois.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Andrea Martin, Environmental Protection Specialist, Office of Railroad Policy and Development, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, (Mail Stop 20), Washington, DC 20590, andrea.martin@ dot.gov; or Mr. John Oimoen at the above address. Information and documents regarding the EIS process will also be made available through the FRA Web site at www.fra.dot.gov and on the Project Web site at www.idothsr.org SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FRA is preparing an EIS for the Project proposed by IDOT that will provide HSR service along the Rock Island District (RID) Railroad corridor between Chicago and Joliet, IL. The proposed Project consists of additional track, geometric improvements (e.g., curves), bridge/culvert improvements, grade separations at selected highway-rail crossings, a rail-rail flyover, highwayrail grade crossing warning device improvements, safety improvements to existing Metra Stations to accommodate the HSR through traffic, and a new HSR station or improvements to an existing Metra Station to accommodate HSR service. Scenarios of HSR service will be developed and evaluated including additional frequencies (i.e., number of trips), ridership projections (i.e., estimated number of passengers), and operating speeds. The Project is intended to implement a portion of the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program consistent with the overall purpose and need that was established in the Tier 1 EIS. Because of inadequate rail capacity and deficiencies in the existing rail infrastructure, there is currently a modal imbalance within the Chicago to St. Louis corridor. Currently, 98 percent of the 51 million trips made annually within the Chicago to St. Louis corridor are accomplished through automobile, with only one percent by passenger rail. This modal imbalance contributes to high roadway congestion, reduced E:\FR\FM\18FEN1.SGM 18FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 32 / Tuesday, February 18, 2014 / Notices tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES overall traveler safety, increased air pollutant emissions and energy consumption, travel delays, and increased travel unreliability. The purpose of the proposed Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program is to enhance the passenger transportation network in the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor by improving high-speed passenger rail service, resulting in a more balanced use of different travel options by diverting trips made by automobile and air to rail. Enhancements to passenger rail service would include reduced travel times, improved service reliability, increased frequency of trips, and increased capacity. Increased use of passenger rail is expected to result in an overall improvement in traveler safety in the corridor, and a reduction in air pollutant emissions and energy consumption. The EIS will evaluate the potential environmental and related impacts of constructing and operating the Project within the existing RID Railroad corridor between Chicago and Joliet, IL. Environmental Review Process The EIS will be developed in accordance with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR part 1500 et. seq.) implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 321 et seq.) (NEPA) and FRA’s Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (64 FR 28545, May 26, 1999). In addition to NEPA, the EIS will address other applicable statutes, regulations and executive orders, including the 1980 Clean Air Act Amendments, Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, the Endangered Species Act and Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice. The FRA and IDOT are using a tiered process, as provided for in 40 CFR 1508.28 and in accordance with FRA guidance, in the completion of the environmental review of the Project. ‘‘Tiering’’ is a staged environmental review process applied to environmental reviews for complex projects. The Tier 1 EIS addressed broad corridor-level issues and alternatives. The Tier 2 EIS will analyze, at a greater level of detail, narrower site-specific proposals based on decisions made in Tier 1. The purpose of the Tier 2 EIS will be to provide the FRA, reviewing and cooperating agencies, and the public with information to assess alternatives that will meet the Project’s purpose and need; to evaluate the potential VerDate Mar<15>2010 20:58 Feb 14, 2014 Jkt 232001 environmental impacts of each alternative; and to identify potential measures necessary to mitigate or avoid environmental impacts associated with the proposed Project alternatives. Project Background The FRA initiated the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program in June 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). On January 28, 2010, Illinois was selected for a $1.2 billion federal award to bring high-speed passenger rail service to Illinois between Dwight and the East St. Louis area. In addition, the Illinois Capital Bill appropriated $400 million for highspeed rail. In December 2010, an additional $42.3 million was received for construction upgrades. The City of Alton and Madison County also received a $13.9 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant for a transportation center in late 2011. And, in January 2012, $186.3 million was received for corridor improvements between Joliet and Dwight, IL. IDOT, local municipalities, and the UPRR have provided matching funds to this overall funding package. In 2012, FRA completed a Final Program EIS for the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program as the first phase of a tiered environmental review process, and issued a Record of Decision on the Final Program EIS on December 18, 2012. The Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program encompasses a corridor that is approximately 284 miles long with trains operating primarily on UPRR track with service provided by Amtrak. The improvements to the route will allow future passenger rail service from Chicago to St. Louis to operate at speeds up to 110 miles per hour (mph). The Tier 1 EIS established the purpose and need for the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program, analyzed the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program, and considered and evaluated alternatives including a no action alternative and multiple alternative alignments along existing rail corridors between Chicago and St. Louis. The Tier 1 EIS considered increasing the frequency of high-speed passenger rail service, as well as increasing the currently planned maximum speed of such service up to 110 miles per hour (mph), in the Corridor. As part of the Tier 1 evaluation, FRA selected the Rock Island (RID) Corridor as the Preferred Alternative between Joliet and Chicago; the existing Amtrak route as the Preferred Alternative between Joliet and St. Louis; and a consolidated route along 10th Street PO 00000 Frm 00151 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 9307 through Springfield as the Preferred Alternative for the Springfield Rail Improvements Project. These proposed improvements were considered in addition to those improvements from Dwight to St. Louis associated with FRA’s 2004 Record of Decision for the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Project and the 2011 Environmental Assessment (EA)/ Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the UPRR’s Track Improvement Project from Joliet to Dwight, IL. As previously mentioned, FRA and IDOT will be responsible for implementing the Project and will jointly prepare a Tier 2 EIS. This Tier 2 EIS represents the next stage in the tiered environmental review process associated with the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program. The Chicago to Joliet Tier 2 EIS will evaluate reasonable Build Alternatives that would be associated with the development and implementation of HSR service along the existing Rock Island Corridor (RID) Corridor in more detail, this component of the Selected Alternative carried forward from the Tier 1 study. Tier 2 analyses are also being conducted for the Springfield flyover and Granite City to St. Louis segments. The Tier 2 evaluation for the Springfield Rail Improvements Project was conducted concurrently to the Tier 1 study. More information regarding the development, evaluation, and selection of alignments during the Tier 1 EIS process, the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Tier 1 Draft EIS, Final EIS, and ROD can be viewed at the following Web site: www.idothsr.org/tier_1. In addition to the remaining Tier 2 Project components of the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program that were identified in the Tier 1 ROD, there are four regional rail programs that relate to the Chicago to Joliet HSR Project being studied in this Tier 2 EIS: the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE), Chicago-St. Louis 220 mph High-Speed Rail Express, Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI), and Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac Passenger Rail Corridor Program. CREATE is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Transportation, the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, the Metropolitan Rail Corporation (Metra), the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), and six freight railroads to improve freight and passenger rail efficiency and to reduce rail/highway traffic conflicts. There are five projects specifically identified by CREATE: P1 (63rd Street and State Street in Chicago); P2 (74th Street in Chicago), P3 (75th E:\FR\FM\18FEN1.SGM 18FEN1 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 9308 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 32 / Tuesday, February 18, 2014 / Notices Street in Chicago) and EW2 (80th Street in Chicago), which are being evaluated together as the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project; and P4 (Grand Crossing in Chicago) that may involve high-speed rail service within the Chicago-Joliet portion of the corridor, depending on the corridor recommendations of this EIS study. More information is available at the CREATE Web site at https:// www.createprogram.org, the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project Web site at https://75thcip.org, and the Grand Crossing Rail Project Web site at https:// grandcrossingrail.com. The Chicago-St. Louis 220 mph HighSpeed Rail Express is a concept being pursued by IDOT. This service, at speeds up to 220 mph, may utilize existing rail corridors, a new corridor, or a combination of both, and could serve different travel markets. The 220 mph concept is intended as a complementary service to the HSR service that was evaluated in the Chicago-St. Louis Tier 1 EIS. A feasibility study was prepared in 2009 by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association that indicated that a completely grade separated route could be established by modifying existing rail corridors to connect Chicago, Champaign, Decatur and Springfield, Illinois with St. Louis, Missouri, with a one-way terminal-to-terminal trip time of approximately two hours, utilizing a maximum speed of 220 mph. Also in 2009, an Expression of Interest was prepared by the French National Railways (SNCF) in response to the FRA’s Request for Expression of Interest dated December 11, 2008. The SNCF proposed a HSR route to be located adjacent to existing rail corridors and sharing existing rail corridors in urban approaches at lower speeds. IDOT intends to further study the 220 mph project concept, including development of an investment-grade business plan. IDOT completed a preliminary feasibility study for the 220 mph project in September 2013. MWRRI is an effort of nine Midwestern States to upgrade Amtrak service in those states, with maximum speeds of 79 to 110 mph depending on the level of improvements made. A Chicago-St. Louis corridor is included in MWRRI’s September 2004 Executive Report and November 2006 Benefit Cost and Economic Analysis. Additional corridors proposed by MWRRI include: Chicago-Green Bay, Wisconsin; ChicagoMinneapolis, Minnesota; St. LouisKansas City, Missouri; ChicagoCincinnati, Ohio; Chicago-Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago-Detroit, Michigan; Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan; ChicagoCarbondale, Illinois; Chicago-Quincy, VerDate Mar<15>2010 20:58 Feb 14, 2014 Jkt 232001 Illinois; and Chicago-Omaha, Nebraska. Several other feeder corridors connecting smaller municipalities to the primary corridors are also included. More information is available at www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/ rail.htm. As part of the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac Passenger Rail Corridor Program, FRA and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) are jointly preparing a Tier 1 EIS to evaluate passenger rail service improvements along the Chicago, Illinois to DetroitPontiac, Michigan regional passenger rail corridor. Partnering state agencies in the development of the EIS are IDOT and Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). The objectives of the Tier 1 EIS are to evaluate a reasonable range of alternatives, select a rail corridor, and make decisions regarding future improvements to intercity passenger rail service provided in the corridor, including increased train frequency, reduced trip time, and improved on-time performance. Alternatives under consideration will include a No-build Alternative, as well as multiple build alternatives between Chicago, Illinois and Porter, Indiana, near Battle Creek, Michigan, and in the Detroit, Michigan region. The Build Alternatives may include infrastructure improvements to the existing rail corridor, the development of a new rail corridor, or a combination of both. More information is available at www.greatlakesrail.org. Although related, the successful implementation of the Chicago to Joliet HSR Project is not dependent on the completion of the above four programs. As indicated above, however, the five CREATE projects may involve and affect high-speed rail service within the Project corridor. The P1 CREATE project is under construction. The other four are undergoing NEPA studies at this time. Where the three CREATE projects still under study are integrated into the Chicago to Joliet HSR Project alternatives, their impacts will be considered. Finally, the Chicago to Joliet HSR Project will not restrict consideration of alternatives for the above four projects. Scoping and Public Involvement FRA encourages broad participation in the Tier 2 EIS process during scoping and review of the resulting environmental documents. Comments are invited from all interested agencies and the public to ensure the full range of issues related to the Project are addressed, reasonable alternatives are considered, and significant issues are identified. In particular, FRA is PO 00000 Frm 00152 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 interested in identifying areas of environmental concern where there might be a potential for significant impacts. Public agencies with jurisdiction are requested to advise FRA and IDOT of the applicable permit and environmental review requirements of each agency, and the scope and content of the environmental information that is germane to the agency’s statutory responsibilities in connection with the proposed Project. Public agencies are requested to advise FRA if they anticipate taking a major action in connection with the proposed Project and if they wish to cooperate in the preparation of the EIS. Public scoping opportunities and meetings will be scheduled as described above and are an important component of the scoping process for federal environmental review. FRA is seeking participation and input of all interested federal, state, and local agencies, Native American groups, and other concerned private organizations and individuals on the scope of the EIS. The Project may affect historic properties and may be subject to the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470(f)). In accordance with regulations issued by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (36 CFR part 800), FRA intends to coordinate compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA with the preparation of the EIS, beginning with the identification of consulting parties through the scoping process, in a manner consistent with the standards set out in 36 CFR 800.8. FRA encourages broad participation in the Tier 2 EIS process during scoping and review of the resulting environmental documents. Comments are invited from the public, governmental agencies, and all other interested parties to ensure the full range of issues related to the Project are addressed, reasonable alternatives are considered, and significant issues are identified. In particular, FRA is interested in identifying areas of environmental concern where there might be a potential for significant impacts. Public agencies with jurisdiction are requested to advise FRA and IDOT of the applicable permit and environmental review requirements of each agency, and the scope and content of the environmental information that is germane to the agency’s statutory responsibilities in connection with the proposed Project. Public agencies are requested to advise FRA if they anticipate taking a major action in connection with the proposed Project and if they wish to cooperate in the preparation of the EIS. E:\FR\FM\18FEN1.SGM 18FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 32 / Tuesday, February 18, 2014 / Notices Public scoping opportunities and meetings will be scheduled as described above and are an important component of the scoping process for federal environmental review. FRA is seeking participation and input of all interested federal, state, and local agencies, Native American groups, and other concerned private organizations and individuals on the scope of the EIS. The proposed Project is a federal undertaking with the potential to affect historic properties. As such, it is subject to the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470(f)). In accordance with regulations issued by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (36 CFR part 800), FRA intends to coordinate compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA with the preparation of the EIS, beginning with the identification of consulting parties through the scoping process, in a manner consistent with the standards set out in 36 CFR 800.8. Issued in Washington, DC, on February 11, 2014. Corey W. Hill, Director, Office of Passenger and Freight Programs. [FR Doc. 2014–03325 Filed 2–14–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–06–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Railroad Administration Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement for the High-Speed Rail Project From Granite City, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). AGENCY: FRA is issuing this Notice of Intent (Notice) to advise the public that FRA and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will jointly prepare a Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Granite City to St. Louis High-Speed Rail (HSR) Project (Project). The EIS will evaluate environmental and related impacts of upgrading rail system and infrastructure between Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) Milepost (MP) 273 near Granite City, IL and the St. Louis Gateway Station in St. Louis, MO to implement high-speed passenger rail service, increase rail capacity, and improve reliability for identified incremental service additions. FRA is issuing this Notice to solicit public and agency input into the development of the scope of the EIS and tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 20:58 Feb 14, 2014 Jkt 232001 to advise the public that outreach activities conducted by FRA and IDOT will be considered in preparation of the EIS. To ensure all significant issues are identified and considered, the public, governmental agencies, and all other interested parties are invited to comment on the scope of the EIS, including the purpose and need, alternatives to be considered, impacts to be evaluated, and methodologies to be used in the evaluation. DATES: Written comments on the scope of the EIS should be provided to IDOT within thirty (30) days of the publication of this notice, at the address listed below. The public scoping meeting is scheduled on February 25, 2014, as noted below. Scoping meeting date, time and location, in addition to Project information can be found online on the FRA Web site at www.fra.dot.gov and on the Project Web site at https:// www.idothsr.org. Written comments on the scope of the EIS may be mailed or emailed within thirty (30) days of the publication of this Notice to Mr. John Oimoen, Deputy Director of Railroads, Division of Public and Intermodal Transportation, Illinois Department of Transportation, 100 West Randolph Street, Suite 6–600, Chicago, Illinois 60601, John.Oimoen@illinois.gov. Comments may also be provided orally or in writing at the scoping meeting scheduled as follows: • The public scoping meeting will be advertised locally and is scheduled on February 25, 2014: Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, 101 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Circle, East St Louis, IL 62204, from 5:00 p.m.– 7:30 p.m. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. ´ Andrea E. Martin, Environmental Protection Specialist, Office of Railroad Policy and Development, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., (Mail Stop 20), Washington, DC 20590, andrea.martin@ dot.gov, or Mr. John Oimoen at the above address. Information and documents regarding the EIS process will also be made available through the FRA Web site at www.fra.dot.gov and on the Project Web site at https:// www.idothsr.org. ADDRESSES: FRA is preparing an EIS for the Project proposed by IDOT that will provide high-speed rail service between Granite City, IL and St. Louis, MO. The proposed Project would increase rail capacity associated with the Mississippi River crossings to accommodate increased rail traffic and improve reliability for identified incremental SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00153 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 9309 service additions anticipated with the proposed high-speed rail service of the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program. For the purposes of the Tier 2 EIS, a study area has been established that includes existing rail corridors. These corridors cover approximately five square miles between MP 273, near Granite City, IL and the St. Louis Gateway Station in St. Louis, MO, and include two 1,000-foot rail corridors (MacArthur Bridge and Merchants Bridge crossings) and two 500-foot intersecting roadway corridors (Niedringhaus and Bissell Avenues). The Project is needed to accommodate the projected high-speed passenger rail traffic between MP 273, near Granite City, IL and the St. Louis Gateway Station in St. Louis, MO. Improved travel time, service reliability, and safety are necessary to attract travelers to high-speed passenger rail from automobile and air travel. The Tier 2 EIS will analyze alternatives that meet the Project’s purpose and need while maximizing community benefits and minimizing impacts to community, cultural, and natural resources. Anticipated improvements would require acquisition of new rights-of-way and permanent/temporary easements; however, the exact limits of the land acquisitions are not known at this time. Right-of-way impacts associated with proposed routes will be identified and made available for comment in the Draft EIS. The inception of high-speed passenger rail service between Chicago and St. Louis, combined with increased freight traffic, would likely require the following: • Evaluation of efficient and reliable routes across Mississippi River (new and existing) • Upgrading and expansion of existing mainline tracks • Operational improvements to interlockings within the St. Louis Terminal • Evaluation of potential grade separations and other crossing safety measures • Improvements to existing bridges and other infrastructure • Evaluation of the feasibility of a new station between Granite City and St. Louis The EIS will evaluate the potential environmental and related impacts of constructing and operating the Project within the corridors located within Madison and St. Clair Counties, IL and St. Louis, MO. E:\FR\FM\18FEN1.SGM 18FEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 32 (Tuesday, February 18, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 9306-9309]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-03325]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Railroad Administration


Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement for the Chicago to Joliet 
High-Speed Rail Project, Cook and Will counties, Illinois

AGENCY: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS).

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

SUMMARY: FRA issues this Notice of Intent (Notice) to advise the public 
that FRA and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will 
jointly prepare a Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 
Chicago to Joliet High-Speed Rail (HSR) Project (Project). The EIS will 
evaluate environmental and related impacts of upgrading the rail system 
and associated infrastructure between the Chicago, IL Union Station and 
the Joliet, IL Union Station to implement high-speed passenger rail 
service, increase rail capacity, and improve reliability for identified 
incremental service additions.
    FRA issues this Notice to solicit public and agency input into the 
development of the scope of the EIS and to advise the public that 
outreach activities conducted by FRA and IDOT will be considered in the 
preparation of the EIS. To ensure all significant issues are identified 
and considered, the public, governmental agencies, and all other 
interested parties are invited to comment on the scope of the EIS, 
including the purpose and need, alternatives to be considered, impacts 
to be evaluated, and methodologies to be used in the evaluation.

DATES: Written comments on the scope of the EIS should be provided to 
IDOT within thirty (30) days of the publication of this Notice, at the 
address listed below. Comments may also be provided orally or in 
writing at the scoping meetings for the Project. Scoping meeting dates, 
times and locations, in addition to Project information can be found 
online on the FRA Web site at https://www.fra.dot.gov and on the Project 
Web site at www.idothsr.org. Three scoping meetings will be held during 
February 2014. These meetings will be advertised locally and are 
scheduled for the following locations on the dates indicated below from 
4 p.m.-7 p.m.
     February 24, 2014: Chicago Union Station, The Union 
Gallery, 500 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60661.
     February 26, 2014: Jacob Henry Mansion, Victorian 
Ballroom, 15 S. Richards Street, Joliet, IL 60433.
     February 27, 2014: Homewood Suites by Hilton Orland Park, 
6245 S La Grange Road, Orland Park, IL 60467.

ADDRESSES: Written comments on the scope of the EIS should be mailed or 
emailed within thirty (30) days of the publication of this Notice to 
Mr. John Oimoen, Deputy Director, Department of Intermodal and Public 
Transit, Illinois Department of Transportation, 100 West Randolph 
Street, Suite 6-600, Chicago, Illinois 60601, john.oimoen@illinois.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Andrea Martin, Environmental 
Protection Specialist, Office of Railroad Policy and Development, 
Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, (Mail Stop 
20), Washington, DC 20590, andrea.martin@dot.gov; or Mr. John Oimoen at 
the above address. Information and documents regarding the EIS process 
will also be made available through the FRA Web site at www.fra.dot.gov 
and on the Project Web site at www.idothsr.org

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FRA is preparing an EIS for the Project 
proposed by IDOT that will provide HSR service along the Rock Island 
District (RID) Railroad corridor between Chicago and Joliet, IL. The 
proposed Project consists of additional track, geometric improvements 
(e.g., curves), bridge/culvert improvements, grade separations at 
selected highway-rail crossings, a rail-rail flyover, highway-rail 
grade crossing warning device improvements, safety improvements to 
existing Metra Stations to accommodate the HSR through traffic, and a 
new HSR station or improvements to an existing Metra Station to 
accommodate HSR service. Scenarios of HSR service will be developed and 
evaluated including additional frequencies (i.e., number of trips), 
ridership projections (i.e., estimated number of passengers), and 
operating speeds.
    The Project is intended to implement a portion of the Chicago to 
St. Louis HSR Corridor Program consistent with the overall purpose and 
need that was established in the Tier 1 EIS. Because of inadequate rail 
capacity and deficiencies in the existing rail infrastructure, there is 
currently a modal imbalance within the Chicago to St. Louis corridor. 
Currently, 98 percent of the 51 million trips made annually within the 
Chicago to St. Louis corridor are accomplished through automobile, with 
only one percent by passenger rail. This modal imbalance contributes to 
high roadway congestion, reduced

[[Page 9307]]

overall traveler safety, increased air pollutant emissions and energy 
consumption, travel delays, and increased travel unreliability. The 
purpose of the proposed Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program is to 
enhance the passenger transportation network in the Chicago to St. 
Louis HSR Corridor by improving high-speed passenger rail service, 
resulting in a more balanced use of different travel options by 
diverting trips made by automobile and air to rail. Enhancements to 
passenger rail service would include reduced travel times, improved 
service reliability, increased frequency of trips, and increased 
capacity. Increased use of passenger rail is expected to result in an 
overall improvement in traveler safety in the corridor, and a reduction 
in air pollutant emissions and energy consumption. The EIS will 
evaluate the potential environmental and related impacts of 
constructing and operating the Project within the existing RID Railroad 
corridor between Chicago and Joliet, IL.

Environmental Review Process

    The EIS will be developed in accordance with the Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR part 1500 et. seq.) 
implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 
321 et seq.) (NEPA) and FRA's Procedures for Considering Environmental 
Impacts (64 FR 28545, May 26, 1999). In addition to NEPA, the EIS will 
address other applicable statutes, regulations and executive orders, 
including the 1980 Clean Air Act Amendments, Section 404 of the Clean 
Water Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and Section 4(f) of 
the Department of Transportation Act, the Endangered Species Act and 
Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice. The FRA and IDOT are 
using a tiered process, as provided for in 40 CFR 1508.28 and in 
accordance with FRA guidance, in the completion of the environmental 
review of the Project. ``Tiering'' is a staged environmental review 
process applied to environmental reviews for complex projects. The Tier 
1 EIS addressed broad corridor-level issues and alternatives. The Tier 
2 EIS will analyze, at a greater level of detail, narrower site-
specific proposals based on decisions made in Tier 1.
    The purpose of the Tier 2 EIS will be to provide the FRA, reviewing 
and cooperating agencies, and the public with information to assess 
alternatives that will meet the Project's purpose and need; to evaluate 
the potential environmental impacts of each alternative; and to 
identify potential measures necessary to mitigate or avoid 
environmental impacts associated with the proposed Project 
alternatives.

Project Background

    The FRA initiated the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) 
Program in June 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment 
Act (ARRA). On January 28, 2010, Illinois was selected for a $1.2 
billion federal award to bring high-speed passenger rail service to 
Illinois between Dwight and the East St. Louis area. In addition, the 
Illinois Capital Bill appropriated $400 million for high-speed rail. In 
December 2010, an additional $42.3 million was received for 
construction upgrades. The City of Alton and Madison County also 
received a $13.9 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic 
Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant for a transportation center in 
late 2011. And, in January 2012, $186.3 million was received for 
corridor improvements between Joliet and Dwight, IL. IDOT, local 
municipalities, and the UPRR have provided matching funds to this 
overall funding package.
    In 2012, FRA completed a Final Program EIS for the Chicago to St. 
Louis HSR Corridor Program as the first phase of a tiered environmental 
review process, and issued a Record of Decision on the Final Program 
EIS on December 18, 2012. The Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program 
encompasses a corridor that is approximately 284 miles long with trains 
operating primarily on UPRR track with service provided by Amtrak. The 
improvements to the route will allow future passenger rail service from 
Chicago to St. Louis to operate at speeds up to 110 miles per hour 
(mph). The Tier 1 EIS established the purpose and need for the Chicago 
to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program, analyzed the Chicago to St. Louis 
HSR Corridor Program, and considered and evaluated alternatives 
including a no action alternative and multiple alternative alignments 
along existing rail corridors between Chicago and St. Louis. The Tier 1 
EIS considered increasing the frequency of high-speed passenger rail 
service, as well as increasing the currently planned maximum speed of 
such service up to 110 miles per hour (mph), in the Corridor.
    As part of the Tier 1 evaluation, FRA selected the Rock Island 
(RID) Corridor as the Preferred Alternative between Joliet and Chicago; 
the existing Amtrak route as the Preferred Alternative between Joliet 
and St. Louis; and a consolidated route along 10th Street through 
Springfield as the Preferred Alternative for the Springfield Rail 
Improvements Project. These proposed improvements were considered in 
addition to those improvements from Dwight to St. Louis associated with 
FRA's 2004 Record of Decision for the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Project 
and the 2011 Environmental Assessment (EA)/Finding of No Significant 
Impact (FONSI) for the UPRR's Track Improvement Project from Joliet to 
Dwight, IL.
    As previously mentioned, FRA and IDOT will be responsible for 
implementing the Project and will jointly prepare a Tier 2 EIS. This 
Tier 2 EIS represents the next stage in the tiered environmental review 
process associated with the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program. 
The Chicago to Joliet Tier 2 EIS will evaluate reasonable Build 
Alternatives that would be associated with the development and 
implementation of HSR service along the existing Rock Island Corridor 
(RID) Corridor in more detail, this component of the Selected 
Alternative carried forward from the Tier 1 study.
    Tier 2 analyses are also being conducted for the Springfield 
flyover and Granite City to St. Louis segments. The Tier 2 evaluation 
for the Springfield Rail Improvements Project was conducted 
concurrently to the Tier 1 study. More information regarding the 
development, evaluation, and selection of alignments during the Tier 1 
EIS process, the Chicago to St. Louis HSR Tier 1 Draft EIS, Final EIS, 
and ROD can be viewed at the following Web site: www.idothsr.org/tier_1.
    In addition to the remaining Tier 2 Project components of the 
Chicago to St. Louis HSR Corridor Program that were identified in the 
Tier 1 ROD, there are four regional rail programs that relate to the 
Chicago to Joliet HSR Project being studied in this Tier 2 EIS: the 
Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program 
(CREATE), Chicago-St. Louis 220 mph High-Speed Rail Express, Midwest 
Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI), and Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac Passenger 
Rail Corridor Program.
    CREATE is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of 
Transportation, the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, the 
Metropolitan Rail Corporation (Metra), the National Railroad Passenger 
Corporation (Amtrak), and six freight railroads to improve freight and 
passenger rail efficiency and to reduce rail/highway traffic conflicts. 
There are five projects specifically identified by CREATE: P1 (63rd 
Street and State Street in Chicago); P2 (74th Street in Chicago), P3 
(75th

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Street in Chicago) and EW2 (80th Street in Chicago), which are being 
evaluated together as the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project; and 
P4 (Grand Crossing in Chicago) that may involve high-speed rail service 
within the Chicago-Joliet portion of the corridor, depending on the 
corridor recommendations of this EIS study. More information is 
available at the CREATE Web site at https://www.createprogram.org, the 
75th Street Corridor Improvement Project Web site at https://75thcip.org, and the Grand Crossing Rail Project Web site at https://grandcrossingrail.com.
    The Chicago-St. Louis 220 mph High-Speed Rail Express is a concept 
being pursued by IDOT. This service, at speeds up to 220 mph, may 
utilize existing rail corridors, a new corridor, or a combination of 
both, and could serve different travel markets. The 220 mph concept is 
intended as a complementary service to the HSR service that was 
evaluated in the Chicago-St. Louis Tier 1 EIS. A feasibility study was 
prepared in 2009 by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association that 
indicated that a completely grade separated route could be established 
by modifying existing rail corridors to connect Chicago, Champaign, 
Decatur and Springfield, Illinois with St. Louis, Missouri, with a one-
way terminal-to-terminal trip time of approximately two hours, 
utilizing a maximum speed of 220 mph. Also in 2009, an Expression of 
Interest was prepared by the French National Railways (SNCF) in 
response to the FRA's Request for Expression of Interest dated December 
11, 2008. The SNCF proposed a HSR route to be located adjacent to 
existing rail corridors and sharing existing rail corridors in urban 
approaches at lower speeds. IDOT intends to further study the 220 mph 
project concept, including development of an investment-grade business 
plan. IDOT completed a preliminary feasibility study for the 220 mph 
project in September 2013.
    MWRRI is an effort of nine Midwestern States to upgrade Amtrak 
service in those states, with maximum speeds of 79 to 110 mph depending 
on the level of improvements made. A Chicago-St. Louis corridor is 
included in MWRRI's September 2004 Executive Report and November 2006 
Benefit Cost and Economic Analysis. Additional corridors proposed by 
MWRRI include: Chicago-Green Bay, Wisconsin; Chicago-Minneapolis, 
Minnesota; St. Louis-Kansas City, Missouri; Chicago-Cincinnati, Ohio; 
Chicago-Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago-Detroit, Michigan; Chicago-Port Huron, 
Michigan; Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois; Chicago-Quincy, Illinois; and 
Chicago-Omaha, Nebraska. Several other feeder corridors connecting 
smaller municipalities to the primary corridors are also included. More 
information is available at www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/rail.htm.
    As part of the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac Passenger Rail Corridor 
Program, FRA and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) are 
jointly preparing a Tier 1 EIS to evaluate passenger rail service 
improvements along the Chicago, Illinois to Detroit-Pontiac, Michigan 
regional passenger rail corridor. Partnering state agencies in the 
development of the EIS are IDOT and Indiana Department of 
Transportation (INDOT). The objectives of the Tier 1 EIS are to 
evaluate a reasonable range of alternatives, select a rail corridor, 
and make decisions regarding future improvements to intercity passenger 
rail service provided in the corridor, including increased train 
frequency, reduced trip time, and improved on-time performance. 
Alternatives under consideration will include a No-build Alternative, 
as well as multiple build alternatives between Chicago, Illinois and 
Porter, Indiana, near Battle Creek, Michigan, and in the Detroit, 
Michigan region. The Build Alternatives may include infrastructure 
improvements to the existing rail corridor, the development of a new 
rail corridor, or a combination of both. More information is available 
at www.greatlakesrail.org.
    Although related, the successful implementation of the Chicago to 
Joliet HSR Project is not dependent on the completion of the above four 
programs. As indicated above, however, the five CREATE projects may 
involve and affect high-speed rail service within the Project corridor. 
The P1 CREATE project is under construction. The other four are 
undergoing NEPA studies at this time. Where the three CREATE projects 
still under study are integrated into the Chicago to Joliet HSR Project 
alternatives, their impacts will be considered. Finally, the Chicago to 
Joliet HSR Project will not restrict consideration of alternatives for 
the above four projects.

Scoping and Public Involvement

    FRA encourages broad participation in the Tier 2 EIS process during 
scoping and review of the resulting environmental documents. Comments 
are invited from all interested agencies and the public to ensure the 
full range of issues related to the Project are addressed, reasonable 
alternatives are considered, and significant issues are identified. In 
particular, FRA is interested in identifying areas of environmental 
concern where there might be a potential for significant impacts. 
Public agencies with jurisdiction are requested to advise FRA and IDOT 
of the applicable permit and environmental review requirements of each 
agency, and the scope and content of the environmental information that 
is germane to the agency's statutory responsibilities in connection 
with the proposed Project. Public agencies are requested to advise FRA 
if they anticipate taking a major action in connection with the 
proposed Project and if they wish to cooperate in the preparation of 
the EIS.
    Public scoping opportunities and meetings will be scheduled as 
described above and are an important component of the scoping process 
for federal environmental review. FRA is seeking participation and 
input of all interested federal, state, and local agencies, Native 
American groups, and other concerned private organizations and 
individuals on the scope of the EIS. The Project may affect historic 
properties and may be subject to the requirements of Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470(f)). 
In accordance with regulations issued by the Advisory Council on 
Historic Preservation (36 CFR part 800), FRA intends to coordinate 
compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA with the preparation of the 
EIS, beginning with the identification of consulting parties through 
the scoping process, in a manner consistent with the standards set out 
in 36 CFR 800.8. FRA encourages broad participation in the Tier 2 EIS 
process during scoping and review of the resulting environmental 
documents. Comments are invited from the public, governmental agencies, 
and all other interested parties to ensure the full range of issues 
related to the Project are addressed, reasonable alternatives are 
considered, and significant issues are identified. In particular, FRA 
is interested in identifying areas of environmental concern where there 
might be a potential for significant impacts. Public agencies with 
jurisdiction are requested to advise FRA and IDOT of the applicable 
permit and environmental review requirements of each agency, and the 
scope and content of the environmental information that is germane to 
the agency's statutory responsibilities in connection with the proposed 
Project. Public agencies are requested to advise FRA if they anticipate 
taking a major action in connection with the proposed Project and if 
they wish to cooperate in the preparation of the EIS.

[[Page 9309]]

    Public scoping opportunities and meetings will be scheduled as 
described above and are an important component of the scoping process 
for federal environmental review. FRA is seeking participation and 
input of all interested federal, state, and local agencies, Native 
American groups, and other concerned private organizations and 
individuals on the scope of the EIS. The proposed Project is a federal 
undertaking with the potential to affect historic properties. As such, 
it is subject to the requirements of Section 106 of the National 
Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470(f)). In 
accordance with regulations issued by the Advisory Council on Historic 
Preservation (36 CFR part 800), FRA intends to coordinate compliance 
with Section 106 of the NHPA with the preparation of the EIS, beginning 
with the identification of consulting parties through the scoping 
process, in a manner consistent with the standards set out in 36 CFR 
800.8.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on February 11, 2014.
Corey W. Hill,
Director, Office of Passenger and Freight Programs.
[FR Doc. 2014-03325 Filed 2-14-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-06-P