Environmental Impact Statement; Lone Star Regional Rail Project, Williamson, Travis, Bastrop, Hays, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, and Bexar Counties, TX, 60232-60233 [2014-23711]

Download as PDF 60232 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 193 / Monday, October 6, 2014 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Highway Administration Environmental Impact Statement; Lone Star Regional Rail Project, Williamson, Travis, Bastrop, Hays, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, and Bexar Counties, TX Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT. ACTION: Notice of intent. AGENCY: Pursuant to 40 CFR 1508.22 and 43 TAC § 2.5(e)(2), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), and the Lone Star Rail District (LSRD) are issuing this notice to advise the public that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared for a proposed transportation project to construct and operate a regional passenger rail service system along the IH–35 corridor connecting the greater Austin and San Antonio metropolitan areas. A required letter of initiation pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 139 was completed as well. As the project proponent, the LSRD intends to apply for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program funding and seek to retain federal funding eligibility for this proposed project. The proposed project would provide for implementation of passenger rail service within the existing Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) corridor that extends from Williamson County to Bexar County, Texas. FHWA as the lead federal agency will coordinate closely with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), to perform the analyses required to evaluate reasonable alternatives for the proposed action. The EIS may include a potential alternative that would include development and operation of a new freight bypass to carry some of the existing freight rail traffic between Taylor and San Antonio to allow the addition of passenger service along the existing UPRR line. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Salvador Deocampo, District Engineer, Federal Highway Administration, Texas Division, 300 East 8th Street, Room 826, Austin, Texas 78701, Telephone 512– 536–5950. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The LSRD (formed in 2003 with authorization of the State of Texas) is an independent and accountable public agency focused on providing regional passenger rail service. As the project proponent, the LSRD has conducted numerous planning, environmental, and mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Oct 03, 2014 Jkt 235001 alternatives analyses over the past 10 years to evaluate feasible options for development of passenger rail service along the IH–35 corridor between the metropolitan areas of Austin and San Antonio. Through these efforts, the LSRD has worked closely with the UPRR, as a major stakeholder, to evaluate operational scenarios for joint freight and passenger operations within UPRR’s existing system. A potential alternative to be evaluated in the EIS includes development and operation of passenger rail service within the abandoned MoKan railroad right-of-way between Georgetown and Round Rock, and along the existing UPRR corridor between Round Rock and San Antonio. A branch route providing passenger rail service between Round Rock and Taylor along the existing UPRR corridor could also be evaluated. A potential alternative could include development of a freight bypass to accommodate some existing freight rail traffic that could be displaced by the proposed passenger rail operations. The proposed freight rail bypass could extend from the UPRR Austin Subdivision near Taylor and follow a greenfield alignment (new location) to Seguin. From Seguin, the proposed freight rail bypass could follow existing UPRR right-of-way through the San Antonio area and terminate at Tower 105 near downtown San Antonio. The need for the proposed project stems from the rapid growth occurring in Central and South Texas. Congestion within the IH–35 corridor has resulted in decreased mobility and travel time reliability for both travelers and freight transporters. The deficiencies of the existing transportation network, including lack of modal transportation options and limited roadway capacity, contribute to decreased regional air quality, increased crash rates, and diminished quality of life for residents living in close proximity to IH–35. The Lone Star Regional Rail Project would provide regional passenger rail service connecting communities along the IH–35 corridor between the metropolitan areas of Austin and San Antonio. As currently envisioned, the project would span approximately 120 miles across Williamson, Travis, Bastrop, Hays, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties. Based upon previous studies, the purpose of the proposed project is to improve mobility, accessibility, transportation reliability, modal choice, safety, and facilitate economic development along the IH–35 corridor in Central and South Texas. The EIS will be prepared in accordance with the National PO 00000 Frm 00107 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations implementing NEPA, and FHWA regulations. The EIS will evaluate the reasonable alternatives and the No Action (the no-build alternative), Transportation System Management (TSM)/Transportation Demand Management (TDM), and other transit, rail, and roadway alternatives incorporated by reference from other applicable studies. Federal Surface Transportation Program-Metropolitan Mobility (STP–MM) funds were used to conduct the previous studies and are funding the current EIS. The EIS will analyze potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts from the proposed construction and operation of the reasonable alternatives considered including, but not limited to the following: regional transportation system impacts (including all modes and effects on congestion); air quality impacts; noise and vibration impacts (in accordance with FRA/FTA guidelines); impacts to water quality and water resources including surface and groundwater, wetlands, rivers, and streams, and floodplains; impacts to historic, archaeological, and cultural resources; impacts to threatened and endangered species and protected habitats; impacts on farm and range lands; socioeconomic impacts including environmental justice communities; impacts on land use and potential displacements; hazardous materials; and impacts to aesthetic and visual resources. Public involvement is a critical component of the NEPA process and will occur throughout this study. Scoping letters describing the proposed action and a request for comments will be sent to federal, state, and local agencies as well as stakeholders, community groups, and citizens who previously expressed an interest in the proposed project. Agency and public scoping meetings are planned for the fall of 2014. The purpose of agency and public scoping is to identify relevant and potentially significant issues related to the Lone Star Regional Rail Project as part of the NEPA process. Scoping meetings, conducted pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 139, will provide opportunities for cooperating agencies, participating agencies, and the public to be involved in review and comment on the Draft Project Coordination Plan, defining the need and purpose for the proposed action, determining the range of reasonable alternatives to be considered in the EIS and the appropriate methodologies to be used, and the level of detail required in the analysis of alternatives. Federal agencies with E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 193 / Monday, October 6, 2014 / Notices jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to potential environmental issues (such as FRA and FTA) will be requested to act as Cooperating Agencies in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.16. Agencies and the public will be notified of the dates, times, and locations of the scoping meetings at a later date. Additional public meetings will also be held on dates to be determined at a later time. In addition to public meetings, public hearings will also be held. Public notice will be given of the times and places for the public meetings and public hearings. Because of the geographic scope of the project, public meetings and public hearings may be conducted at multiple locations. Opportunities for public participation will also be announced through mailings, notices, advertisements, and on the EIS Web page http:// www.LoneStarRail.com. To ensure that the full range of issues related to this proposed action is addressed and all significant issues are identified, comments and suggestions are invited from all interested parties. Such comments or questions concerning this proposed action should be directed to the FHWA at the address provided above. (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205, Highway, Planning, and Construction. The regulations implementing Executive Order 12372 regarding intergovernmental consultation on Federal programs and activities apply to this program.) Issued on: September 29, 2014. Salvador Deocampo, District Engineer. [FR Doc. 2014–23711 Filed 10–3–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–22–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [Docket No. NHTSA–2014–0090] Notice of Buy America Waiver National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Correction to Notice of Buy America Waiver mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES AGENCY: On September 16, 2014, NHTSA published a Notice of Buy America Waiver that provided findings to requests from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) to waive the requirements of Buy America. The Notice stated an effective date of October 16, 2014. However, that date SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Oct 03, 2014 Jkt 235001 did not correctly reflect NHTSA’s intentions for the effective date. Also, the Notice did not accurately cite the appropriate section of the United States Code for motorcyclist safety grant funds, 23 U.S.C. 405(f). This document corrects those errors. DATES: The effective date of this correction is the date of publication October 6, 2014. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For program issues, contact Barbara Sauers, Office of Regional Operations and Program Delivery, NHTSA (phone: 202– 366–0144). For legal issues, contact Andrew DiMarsico, Office of Chief Counsel, NHTSA (phone: 202–366– 5263). You may send mail to these officials at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On September 16, 2014, NHTSA published a Notice of Buy America Waiver that provided findings in regards to five requests from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) to waive the requirements of Buy America. In summary, NHTSA found the following: • A waiver of the Buy America requirements, 23 U.S.C. 313, was appropriate for OHSP to purchase a portable data projector, wireless remote control presenter, DVDs, high-visibility motorcycle vests and twenty training motorcycles. • A non-availability waiver of the Buy America requirements was inappropriate for OHSP to lease a copy/printer/fax machine. Need for Correction The Notice of Buy America Waiver stated the waiver was effective on October 16, 2014. This date did not correctly state NHTSA’s intentions. On September 16, 2014, at 79 FR 55529, NHTSA intended the waiver to be effective on an earlier date in order to allow the grantee an opportunity to purchase the items requested. Also, the Notice did not accurately cite the appropriate section of the United States Code for motorcyclist safety grant funds. The Notice cited to 23 U.S.C. 405(g), but NHTSA intended to cite 23 U.S.C. 405(f) for motorcyclist safety grant funds. In FR Doc. 2014–0090 appearing on page 55529 of the Federal Register of Tuesday, September 16, 2014, the following corrections are made: In the DATES section in the left column, revise the paragraph to read as follows: ‘‘The effective date of this waiver is the date of publication.’’ In the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section in the middle column, revise the PO 00000 Frm 00108 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60233 first and second paragraph to cite the following provision: ‘‘23 U.S.C. 405(f).’’ Issued in Washington, DC, on September 30, 2014, under authority delegated in 49 CFR part 1.95. O. Kevin Vincent, Chief Counsel. [FR Doc. 2014–23822 Filed 10–3–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–59–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Surface Transportation Board [Docket No. AB 55 (Sub-No. 736X; Docket No. AB 290 (Sub-No. 368X] CSX Transportation, Inc.— Abandonment Exemption—in Knoxville, Knox County, Tenn.; Norfolk Southern Railway Company— Discontinuance of Service Exemption—in Knoxville, Knox County, Tenn. CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT) and Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NSR) (collectively, applicants) have jointly filed a verified notice of exemption under 49 CFR part 1152 subpart F–Exempt Abandonments and Discontinuances of Service for CSXT to abandon, and for NSR to discontinue service over, approximately 1.18 miles of rail line on CSXT’s Second Creek Spur on CSXT’s Central Region, Huntington Division, KD Subdivision between milepost 0KS 275.09 (Valuation Station 15304+87) at the end of the track and milepost 0KS 276.27 (Valuation Station 15368+89 near West Baxter Avenue in Knoxville, Knox County, Tenn. (the Line). The Line traverses United States Postal Service Zip Code 37921 and includes no stations. Applicants have certified that: (1) No local traffic has moved over the Line for at least two years; (2) any overhead traffic on the Line can be rerouted over other lines; (3) no formal complaint has been filed by a user of rail service on the Line (or by a state or local government entity acting on behalf of such user) regarding cessation of service over the Line, and no such complaint is either pending with the Surface Transportation Board (Board) or with any U.S. District Court or has been decided in favor of a complainant within the two-year period; and (4) the requirements at 49 CFR 1105.7(c) (environmental report), 49 CFR 1105.11 (transmittal letter), 49 CFR 1105.12 (newspaper publication), and 49 CFR 1152.50(d)(1) (notice to governmental agencies) have been met. As a condition to these exemptions, any employee adversely affected by the E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 193 (Monday, October 6, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 60232-60233]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-23711]



[[Page 60232]]

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration


Environmental Impact Statement; Lone Star Regional Rail Project, 
Williamson, Travis, Bastrop, Hays, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, and 
Bexar Counties, TX

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of intent.

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

SUMMARY: Pursuant to 40 CFR 1508.22 and 43 TAC Sec.  2.5(e)(2), the 
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Texas Department of 
Transportation (TxDOT), and the Lone Star Rail District (LSRD) are 
issuing this notice to advise the public that an Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) will be prepared for a proposed transportation project 
to construct and operate a regional passenger rail service system along 
the IH-35 corridor connecting the greater Austin and San Antonio 
metropolitan areas. A required letter of initiation pursuant to 23 
U.S.C. 139 was completed as well. As the project proponent, the LSRD 
intends to apply for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and 
Innovation Act (TIFIA) program funding and seek to retain federal 
funding eligibility for this proposed project. The proposed project 
would provide for implementation of passenger rail service within the 
existing Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) corridor that extends from 
Williamson County to Bexar County, Texas. FHWA as the lead federal 
agency will coordinate closely with the Federal Railroad Administration 
(FRA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), to perform the 
analyses required to evaluate reasonable alternatives for the proposed 
action. The EIS may include a potential alternative that would include 
development and operation of a new freight bypass to carry some of the 
existing freight rail traffic between Taylor and San Antonio to allow 
the addition of passenger service along the existing UPRR line.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Salvador Deocampo, District 
Engineer, Federal Highway Administration, Texas Division, 300 East 8th 
Street, Room 826, Austin, Texas 78701, Telephone 512-536-5950.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The LSRD (formed in 2003 with authorization 
of the State of Texas) is an independent and accountable public agency 
focused on providing regional passenger rail service. As the project 
proponent, the LSRD has conducted numerous planning, environmental, and 
alternatives analyses over the past 10 years to evaluate feasible 
options for development of passenger rail service along the IH-35 
corridor between the metropolitan areas of Austin and San Antonio. 
Through these efforts, the LSRD has worked closely with the UPRR, as a 
major stakeholder, to evaluate operational scenarios for joint freight 
and passenger operations within UPRR's existing system. A potential 
alternative to be evaluated in the EIS includes development and 
operation of passenger rail service within the abandoned MoKan railroad 
right-of-way between Georgetown and Round Rock, and along the existing 
UPRR corridor between Round Rock and San Antonio. A branch route 
providing passenger rail service between Round Rock and Taylor along 
the existing UPRR corridor could also be evaluated.
    A potential alternative could include development of a freight 
bypass to accommodate some existing freight rail traffic that could be 
displaced by the proposed passenger rail operations. The proposed 
freight rail bypass could extend from the UPRR Austin Subdivision near 
Taylor and follow a greenfield alignment (new location) to Seguin. From 
Seguin, the proposed freight rail bypass could follow existing UPRR 
right-of-way through the San Antonio area and terminate at Tower 105 
near downtown San Antonio.
    The need for the proposed project stems from the rapid growth 
occurring in Central and South Texas. Congestion within the IH-35 
corridor has resulted in decreased mobility and travel time reliability 
for both travelers and freight transporters. The deficiencies of the 
existing transportation network, including lack of modal transportation 
options and limited roadway capacity, contribute to decreased regional 
air quality, increased crash rates, and diminished quality of life for 
residents living in close proximity to IH-35.
    The Lone Star Regional Rail Project would provide regional 
passenger rail service connecting communities along the IH-35 corridor 
between the metropolitan areas of Austin and San Antonio. As currently 
envisioned, the project would span approximately 120 miles across 
Williamson, Travis, Bastrop, Hays, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, and 
Bexar counties. Based upon previous studies, the purpose of the 
proposed project is to improve mobility, accessibility, transportation 
reliability, modal choice, safety, and facilitate economic development 
along the IH-35 corridor in Central and South Texas.
    The EIS will be prepared in accordance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Council on Environmental 
Quality (CEQ) regulations implementing NEPA, and FHWA regulations. The 
EIS will evaluate the reasonable alternatives and the No Action (the 
no-build alternative), Transportation System Management (TSM)/
Transportation Demand Management (TDM), and other transit, rail, and 
roadway alternatives incorporated by reference from other applicable 
studies. Federal Surface Transportation Program-Metropolitan Mobility 
(STP-MM) funds were used to conduct the previous studies and are 
funding the current EIS.
    The EIS will analyze potential direct, indirect, and cumulative 
impacts from the proposed construction and operation of the reasonable 
alternatives considered including, but not limited to the following: 
regional transportation system impacts (including all modes and effects 
on congestion); air quality impacts; noise and vibration impacts (in 
accordance with FRA/FTA guidelines); impacts to water quality and water 
resources including surface and groundwater, wetlands, rivers, and 
streams, and floodplains; impacts to historic, archaeological, and 
cultural resources; impacts to threatened and endangered species and 
protected habitats; impacts on farm and range lands; socioeconomic 
impacts including environmental justice communities; impacts on land 
use and potential displacements; hazardous materials; and impacts to 
aesthetic and visual resources.
    Public involvement is a critical component of the NEPA process and 
will occur throughout this study. Scoping letters describing the 
proposed action and a request for comments will be sent to federal, 
state, and local agencies as well as stakeholders, community groups, 
and citizens who previously expressed an interest in the proposed 
project. Agency and public scoping meetings are planned for the fall of 
2014. The purpose of agency and public scoping is to identify relevant 
and potentially significant issues related to the Lone Star Regional 
Rail Project as part of the NEPA process. Scoping meetings, conducted 
pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 139, will provide opportunities for cooperating 
agencies, participating agencies, and the public to be involved in 
review and comment on the Draft Project Coordination Plan, defining the 
need and purpose for the proposed action, determining the range of 
reasonable alternatives to be considered in the EIS and the appropriate 
methodologies to be used, and the level of detail required in the 
analysis of alternatives. Federal agencies with

[[Page 60233]]

jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to potential 
environmental issues (such as FRA and FTA) will be requested to act as 
Cooperating Agencies in accordance with 40 CFR 1501.16. Agencies and 
the public will be notified of the dates, times, and locations of the 
scoping meetings at a later date. Additional public meetings will also 
be held on dates to be determined at a later time. In addition to 
public meetings, public hearings will also be held. Public notice will 
be given of the times and places for the public meetings and public 
hearings. Because of the geographic scope of the project, public 
meetings and public hearings may be conducted at multiple locations. 
Opportunities for public participation will also be announced through 
mailings, notices, advertisements, and on the EIS Web page http://www.LoneStarRail.com.
    To ensure that the full range of issues related to this proposed 
action is addressed and all significant issues are identified, comments 
and suggestions are invited from all interested parties. Such comments 
or questions concerning this proposed action should be directed to the 
FHWA at the address provided above.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205, 
Highway, Planning, and Construction. The regulations implementing 
Executive Order 12372 regarding intergovernmental consultation on 
Federal programs and activities apply to this program.)


     Issued on: September 29, 2014.
Salvador Deocampo,
District Engineer.
[FR Doc. 2014-23711 Filed 10-3-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-22-P