Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service: Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties, CA, 70257-70260 [2016-24597]

Download as PDF 70257 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 196 / Tuesday, October 11, 2016 / Notices Section asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Tank Car Owner Notification to All Parties under Contract to Car Owner, including Lessees and/or sub-Lessees, using tank cars subject to the Terms of this Directive. Report of Inspection , Test, and Repair Information stipulated in paragraph 2(g) of Directive to FRA. Repairs: 15% of Relevant Tank Fleet of 14,000 cars— Record and Report of Repairs to Tank Car Owners. Tank Car Facility Request to Tank Car Owner for Written Permission and Approval of Qualification and Maintenance Program It Will Use Consistent with Appendices D, R, and W of the Tank Car Manual and 49 CFR 180.513 Prior to Initiating Any Repairs. Tank Car Facility Report of All Work Performed to Tank Car Owner. Total Estimated Responses: 44,293. Total Estimated Annual Burden: 68,953 hours. Status: Emergency Review. Description: On September 30, 2016, FRA issued a Railworthiness Directive (Directive) to all owners of DOT specification 111 general purpose tank cars, which can be found on FRA’s Web site at http:// www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/details/L18383. FRA issued the Directive based on its finding that as a result of nonconforming welding practices, DOT–111 tank cars built by American Railcar Industries, Inc. (ARI) and ACF Industries, LLC (ACF) between 2009 and 2015 to the ARI and ACF 300 stub sill design and equipped with a two-piece cast sump and bottom outlet valve (BOV) skid may be in an unsafe operating condition and could result in the release of hazardous materials. As a result of the non-conforming welding practices, these cars may have substantial weld defects at the sump and BOV skid groove attachment welds, potentially affecting each tank’s ability to retain its contents during transportation. The Directive requires owners to: (1) Identify tank cars in their fleet covered by this Directive; and (2) ensure appropriate inspection and testing of each tank car’s sump and BOV skid groove attachment welds to ensure no flaw exists which could result in the loss of tank integrity. As provided under 5 CFR 1320.13, Emergency Processing, DOT is requesting emergency processing for this new collection of information as specified in the PRA and its implementing regulations. DOT cannot reasonably comply with normal clearance procedures because the use of normal clearance procedures is VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:12 Oct 07, 2016 Total annual responses Average time per response 20 Tank Car Owners (100 Lessees/SubLessees). 100 notices ................ 2 hours ....................... 200 20 Tank Car Owners (100 Lessees/SubLessees). 10 Tank Car Facility Operators. 14,000 reports ............ 20 min. per car/report. 4,667 2,100 car reports/ records. 16 hours ..................... 33,600 10 Tank Car Facility Operators. 20 requests + 20 written permissions. 10 min. + 10 min ....... 7 10 Tank Car Facility Operators. Burden Included Directly Above. N/A ............................. N/A Respondent universe Jkt 241001 reasonably likely to disrupt the collection of information. Further, in light of recent tank car accidents/ incidents carrying crude oil, FRA believes safety is an overriding issue. The Directive took effect upon issuance. FRA cannot wait the normal 90 days of public comment. Under the Directive, tank car owners must take immediate action to identify tank cars in their fleet subject to the Directive. Therefore, FRA is requesting OMB approval of this collection of information 7 days after publication of this Notice in the Federal Register. Upon OMB approval of its Emergency clearance request, FRA will follow the normal clearance procedures for the information collection associated with this Directive. Under 44 U.S.C. 3507(a) and 5 CFR 1320.5(b), 1320.8(b)(3)(vi), FRA informs all interested parties it may not conduct or sponsor, and a respondent is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. Authority: 44 U.S.C. 3501–3520. Issued in Washington, DC, on October 4, 2016. Amitabha Bose, Chief Counsel. [FR Doc. 2016–24429 Filed 10–7–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–06–P PO 00000 Frm 00173 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Total annual burden hours DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Railroad Administration Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Coachella Valley— San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service: Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties, CA Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). AGENCY: Through this NOI, FRA announces it will prepare a Programmatic EIS and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) jointly with the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for the Coachella Valley—San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service (Project). FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will develop the Programmatic EIS/EIR in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). FRA invites the public and Federal, state, and local agencies to provide input into the scope of the EIS/EIR and will consider all information from outreach activities when preparing the EIS/EIR. The Project will study options for providing intercity passenger rail service between the cities of Los Angeles and Indio, California also known as the Coachella Valley—San Gorgonio Pass Corridor (the Corridor). DATES: Persons interested in providing written comments on the scope of the Coachella Valley—San Gorgonio Pass SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\11OCN1.SGM 11OCN1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 70258 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 196 / Tuesday, October 11, 2016 / Notices Rail Corridor Service Project must do so by November 10, 2016. Three public scoping meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, October 12, 2016; Thursday, October 13, 2016; and Monday, October 17, 2016. ADDRESSES: Interested persons should send written comments to FRA’s Office of Program Delivery, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE. (Mail Stop 20), Washington, DC 20590, or Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), 4080 Lemon Street, 3rd Floor, Riverside, California 92501, or via email to Robert Yates, Multimodal Services Director, CoachellaValleyRail@ ArellanoAssociates.com. Comments should include ‘‘Coachella Valley—San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service— NOI Scoping Comments’’ in the subject line. Interested persons may also provide comments orally or in writing at the following scoping meetings: • Springbrook Club House at Reid Park: 1101 N. Orange Street Riverside, CA 92501, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; • Indio Senior Center: 45–700 Aladdin Street, Indio, CA 92201, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; and • Metro Headquarters, Plaza Level: One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles, California 90012, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. All scoping meeting locations are Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) accessible. Spanish language translators will be present. You may call (909) 627–2974 at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting to request other accommodations or translation services. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Stephanie Perez, Environmental Protection Specialist, Office of Program Delivery, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE. (Mail Stop 20), Washington, DC 20590; Telephone: (202) 493–0388, email: stephanie.perez@dot.gov, or Robert Yates, Multimodal Services Director, at CoachellaValleyRail@ ArellanoAssociates.com. Scoping materials and information concerning the scoping meeting is available through RCTC’s Web site: http://rctc.org/projects/rail-projects/ coachella-valley-san-gorgonio-passcorridor-rail-service. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FRA is an operating administration of DOT and is responsible for overseeing the safety of railroad operations, including the safety of any proposed rail transportation system. FRA also provides financial assistance for intercity passenger rail capital investments. FRA is the lead agency under NEPA for the Project. FRA will prepare the VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:12 Oct 07, 2016 Jkt 241001 Programmatic EIS/EIR consistent with NEPA, the Council on Environmental Quality regulations implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500–1508), and FRA’s Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (64 FR 28545, May 26, 1999; 78 FR 2713, Jan. 14, 2013) (Environmental Procedures). FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will prepare the EIS consistent with 23 U.S.C. 139 (titled ‘‘Efficient environmental reviews for project decision making’’). RCTC and Caltrans will ensure the EIR is consistent with CEQA. After release and circulation of a Draft Programmatic EIS/ EIR for public comment, FRA will issue a single document consisting of the Final Programmatic EIS and a Record of Decision under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (Pub. L. 114–94, section 1304(n)(2)) unless it determines that statutory criteria or practicability considerations prelude issuing a combined document. The EIS will also document FRA’s compliance with other applicable Federal, state, and local laws including, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act of 1966, the conformity requirements of the Clean Air Act, and Executive Order 12898 and U.S. DOT Order 5610.2(a) on Environmental Justice. FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will use a tiered NEPA process (e.g. Programmatic EIS/EIR) to complete the environmental review of the Project, under 40 CFR 1508.28 (titled ‘‘Tiering’’) and FRA’s Environmental Procedures. ‘‘Tiering’’ is a staged environmental review process often applied to environmental review for complex transportation projects. When used, the initial phase of a tiered process addresses broad questions and likely environmental effects for the Corridor including, but not limited to, the type of service(s) being proposed, major infrastructure components, and identification of major facility capacity constraints. Based on the decisions made in the Programmatic EIS/EIR, future site-specific proposals would be analyzed at a greater level of detail and addressed in subsequent phases or tiered (e.g. Project-level NEPA and CEQA) environmental documents. Project Description and Background The Project would extend from an eastern terminus in Indio, California to the western terminus at Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS), and is approximately 141 miles long. In 1991, RCTC completed the first in a series of studies evaluating the feasibility of operating one or two daily intercity rail round trips between Los Angeles and Indio. From 1991 to 2013, RCTC PO 00000 Frm 00174 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 completed additional feasibility studies on the Coachella Valley—San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service. In July 2016, RCTC, in coordination with Caltrans and FRA, prepared and completed the Coachella Valley—San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service Study Alternatives Analysis Final Report that evaluated a reasonable range of alternatives for a new intercity rail service between Los Angeles and Indio. The purpose of the Alternatives Analysis was to identify an alternative(s) for more detailed evaluation in a subsequent Service Development Plan and Programmatic EIS/EIR. Project Need The Corridor currently faces significant mobility challenges that are likely to continue as growth in population, employment, and tourism activity is expected to increase travel demand. An effective rail system will help meet the future mobility needs of residents, businesses, and visitors. The Corridor faces continuing transportation challenges as evidenced by the following: Constrained Travel Options—While a transportation system that includes air, highway, and rail modes, serves the Corridor, access and capacity are presently constrained along certain segments and may be unable to meet future travel demand. Air access is limited for many residents due to distance from major airports, frequency, and high cost of flights between the Coachella Valley region and Los Angeles. Interstate 10 is the only major highway that serves the eastern portion of the Corridor. Amtrak offers limited long distance passenger train service three times a week with a stop in Palm Springs late at night. Significant Highway Congestion— While travel by car is expected to meet the majority of future travel demand, increased use will result in additional congestion. Congestion along certain highway segments of the Corridor is likely to worsen, making travel times unreliable. Interstate 10 follows the entirety of the Corridor and experiences regular congestion and travel delays. In addition, geographic constraints limit the potential expansion of the existing highway system. Constrained Rail System Capacity— Existing corridor rail service could accommodate an increasing portion of projected travel demand growth by providing an alternative mode to car travel. However, rail service is currently constrained and existing infrastructure would need to be upgraded to provide adequate main track capacity for additional passenger trains. E:\FR\FM\11OCN1.SGM 11OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 196 / Tuesday, October 11, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Increase Travel Capacity Without Impacting Air Quality and Natural Resources – Highway capacity improvements can have negative impacts on regional and local air quality as well as the efficient use of natural resources. Rail system improvements offer the opportunity to achieve air quality benefits with fewer potential impacts on natural resources. Project Purpose and Objectives The overall purpose of the Project is to provide a safe, reliable, and convenient intercity passenger rail service that would meet the future mobility needs of residents, businesses, and visitors within the Corridor. The Project would achieve the following objectives: • Provide travelers between the Coachella Valley and the Los Angeles Basin with a public transportation service that offers more convenient and competitive trip times, better station access, and more frequency, than currently-available public transportation services; • Provide travelers between the Coachella Valley and the Los Angeles Basin with an alternative to driving that offers reliable travel schedules; • Provide travelers between the Coachella Valley and the Los Angeles Basin with a transportation service that is affordable; • Serve a range of trip purposes traveling between the Coachella Valley and the Los Angeles Basin, particularly including business, social, medical, leisure, and recreational trips; • Improve regional travel opportunities between the Coachella Valley and the Los Angeles Basin for transit dependent people; • Serve the expected population growth in the Coachella Valley and the Los Angeles Basin; and • Not preclude, by choice of alignment or technology, a possible future Corridor expansion between the Coachella Valley and Phoenix. The Project would provide enhanced passenger rail service and is consistent with State and regional efforts to reduce mobile source emissions associated with highway and truck traffic on parallel highways from Los Angeles to Indio. These efforts are anticipated to help the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and RCTC meet the air pollution and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets mandated by California Assembly Bill 32, known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, as amended, and California Senate Bill 375, known as the California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008. These two laws VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:12 Oct 07, 2016 Jkt 241001 establish the basis for SCAG and RCTC to accommodate regional growth through increased and more frequent access to alternative modes of transit for local communities. Proposed Project Alternatives In the Programmatic EIS/EIR FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will evaluate and analyze a No Build Alternative and at least one Build Alternative consisting of multiple improvements between Indio and Los Angeles. No Build Alternative—The No Build Alternative provides a baseline for comparison to the Build Alternative. This alternative represents the existing California transportation system (highway, air, and rail) as it would exist after completion of programs or projects currently funded or being implemented. The No Build Alternative would draw upon the following sources of information: • State Transportation Improvement Program (2016); • Regional Transportation Plans for all modes of travel; • Airport plans; and • Passenger rail plans. Build Alternative—The Build Alternative would include the necessary infrastructure improvements to meet the Project’s purpose and need. The Build Alternative is made up of two components, a route alignment and station alternatives. FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will consider the July 2016 Alternatives Analysis Final Report when identifying the Build Alternative(s) for detailed analysis in the Programmatic EIS/EIS. However, additional reasonable build alternatives meeting the proposed purpose and need but not considered in the July 2016 Alternatives Analysis Final Report may be developed during the scoping process. This may also involve refining the Build Alternative as more information comes available based on the environmental analysis and coordination with stakeholders and the public. Additionally, the proposed purpose and need may be updated and/ or refined based on coordination with stakeholders and the public. Probable Effects The Programmatic EIS/EIR will consider the potential environmental effects of the Project Alternatives. FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will analyze the following environmental issue areas in the Programmatic EIS/EIR: Agricultural Lands; Air Quality and Global Climate Change; Biological and Wetland Resources; Cultural and Historic Resources; Economic and Fiscal Impacts; Energy; Environmental Justice; PO 00000 Frm 00175 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 70259 Floodplains, Hydrology, and Water Quality; Geology, Soils, and Seismicity; Hazardous Waste and Materials; Land Use, Planning, and Communities; Noise and Vibration; Parklands, Community Services, and Other Public Facilities; Safety and Security; Section 4(f) and 6(f) Resources; Transportation; and Visual Quality and Aesthetics. Scoping and Comments FRA encourages broad participation in the EIS process during scoping and review of the resulting environmental documents. FRA invites all interested agencies, Native American Tribes, and the public at large to participate in the scoping process to ensure the Programmatic EIS/EIR addresses the full range of issues related to the proposed action, reasonable alternatives are addressed, and all significant issues are identified. FRA requests any public agency having jurisdiction over an aspect of the Project identify the agency’s permit or environmental review requirements and the scope and content of the environmental information germane to the agency’s jurisdiction over the Project. FRA requests public agencies 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 Programmatic EIS/ EIR. FRA will coordinate with participating agencies during development of the Draft Programmatic EIS under 23 U.S.C. 139. FRA will invite all Federal and non-Federal agencies and Native American Tribes that may have an interest in the Project to become participating agencies for the EIS. If an agency or Tribe is not invited and would like to participate, please contact FRA at the contact information listed above. FRA will develop a Coordination Plan summarizing how it will engage the public, agencies, and Tribes in the process. The Coordination Plan will be posted to the Project Web site http://rctc.org/projects/rail-projects/ coachella-valley-san-gorgonio-passcorridor-rail-service and to FRA’s Web site fra.dot.gov. At various milestones during the development of the Programmatic EIS/EIR, FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will provide additional opportunities for public and interested party input. FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans have scheduled three public scoping meetings as an important component of the scoping process for both the state and Federal environmental review. The scoping meetings described in the ADDRESSES section will also be advertised locally and included in E:\FR\FM\11OCN1.SGM 11OCN1 70260 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 196 / Tuesday, October 11, 2016 / Notices additional public notification. The format of the meeting will consist of a presentation describing the proposed Coachella Valley—San Gorgonio Pass Corridor Service Project, objectives, and existing conditions. Following the presentation, scoping meeting attendees will be able to participate in an open house format that encourages questions and comments on the Project from the public. Felicia Young, Acting Director, Office of Program Delivery. [FR Doc. 2016–24597 Filed 10–6–16; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4910–06–P Ms. Amanda Murphy, Environmental Protection Specialist, Office of Railroad Policy and Development, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., (Mail Stop–20), Washington, DC 20590; telephone: (202) 493–0624. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: More information about the Long Bridge Project is available at http:// longbridgeproject.com/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Issued in Washington, DC, on October 5, 2016. Felicia B. Young, Acting Director, Office of Program Delivery. [FR Doc. 2016–24522 Filed 10–7–16; 8:45 am] DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION BILLING CODE 4910–06–P Federal Railroad Administration DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Environmental Impact Statement for the Long Bridge Project in Washington, DC Federal Transit Administration Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Extension of agency and public scoping comment period, Long Bridge project. AGENCY: On August 26, 2016, FRA published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Long Bridge Project jointly with the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) (81 FR 59036). The Proposed Action consists of potential improvements to Long Bridge and related railroad infrastructure located between the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) Crystal City Station in Arlington, Virginia and Control Point (CP) Virginia in Washington, DC. In announcing its intent, FRA and DDOT established a 30day public comment period that was scheduled to end on September 26, 2016. In consideration of requests for additional time to comment, FRA and DDOT are extending the scoping comment period to October 14, 2016. The extension provides agencies and the public with 30 days to submit comments following public and interagency scoping meetings held on September 14, 2016. DATES: The scoping comment period for the Long Bridge Project is extended to October 14, 2016. ADDRESSES: Scoping comments can be mailed to the address identified under the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT caption below. Internet and email correspondence may be submitted through the Long Bridge Project Web site http://longbridgeproject.com/ or at info@longbridgeproject.com. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:12 Oct 07, 2016 Jkt 241001 [Docket No. FTA–2016–009] Final Notice on Updates to the Uniform System of Accounts (USOA) and Changes to the National Transit Database (NTD) Reporting Requirements AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration, DOT. ACTION: Notice, response to comments. This Notice finalizes updates to the USOA and changes to NTD Automatic Passenger Counter Certification requirements. DATES: Full implementation required in report year 2018. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maggie Schilling, National Transit Database Deputy Program Manager, FTA Office of Budget and Policy, (202) 366– 2054 or margaret.schilling@dot.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Table of Contents A. Background B. Response to Comments on Proposed Updates to the USOA and Changes to NTD Reporting Requirements C. Response to Comments on the Revised APC Certification Process D. Overview of Final Updates to the USOA, NTD Reporting Requirements and APC Certification A. Background On February 3, 2016, FTA published a Federal Register notice (initial notice) (Docket No. FTA–2016–009) for comment on proposed updates to the USOA and changes to NTD reporting requirements. The USOA is the basic reference document that describes how transit agencies are to report to the NTD. The USOA was originally published in PO 00000 Frm 00176 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 1977 when NTD reporting began. While the NTD has undergone numerous and substantial changes in the past 38 years, the USOA was last updated for minor changes in 1995. The notice described various proposed changes to the USOA to better align with today’s NTD and accounting practices and to address FTA data needs and common questions among NTD reporters. In the initial notice, FTA proposed the following changes: A. Separation of ‘‘Passenger-Paid Fares’’ and ‘‘Organization-Paid Fares’’ B. Separation of ‘‘Paid Absences’’ from ‘‘Fringe Benefits’’ C. Consolidation of ‘‘Casualty and Liability Costs’’ under General Administration Function D. Expansion of Assets and Liabilities Object Classes (F–60) E. Addition of ‘‘Voluntary NonExchange Transactions’’ F. Addition of ‘‘Sales and Disposals of Assets’’ G. Simplification of State Fund Reporting H. Reorganization of B–30 Contractual Relationship Additionally, the initial notice proposed changes to the NTD reporting requirements that are not directly addressed in the updated USOA, which are as follows: I. Separation of Operators’ and NonOperators’ Work Hours and Counts J. Enhanced Auditor’s Review K. Revised Automatic Passenger Counter (APC) Certification Process In the initial notice, FTA proposed that it would begin implementing the proposed reporting requirements beginning with the FY 2017 NTD reporting cycle. B. Response to Comments on Proposed Updates to the USOA and Changes to NTD Reporting Requirements The comment period for the initial notice closed on April 4, 2016. The following is a summary of the comments from the initial notice related to the updates to the USOA and NTD reporting requirements. Comment: Three commenters raised a concern over the separation of ‘‘Passenger-Paid Fares’’ and ‘‘Organization-Paid Fares.’’ Commenters opposed the separation of ‘‘PassengerPaid Fares’’ and ‘‘Organization-Paid Fares’’ stating that the additional information will add little, if any, value to the NTD report. Commenters noted that adding these additional reporting requirements will only increase the cost of compliance for reporting agencies. One commenter specifically raised a concern stating that the proposed E:\FR\FM\11OCN1.SGM 11OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 196 (Tuesday, October 11, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 70257-70260]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-24597]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Railroad Administration


Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Coachella 
Valley--San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service: Riverside, San 
Bernardino, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties, CA

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

ACTION: Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Programmatic Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS).

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

SUMMARY: Through this NOI, FRA announces it will prepare a Programmatic 
EIS and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) jointly with the Riverside 
County Transportation Commission (RCTC) and the California Department 
of Transportation (Caltrans) for the Coachella Valley--San Gorgonio 
Pass Rail Corridor Service (Project). FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will 
develop the Programmatic EIS/EIR in compliance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), and the California 
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). FRA invites the public and Federal, 
state, and local agencies to provide input into the scope of the EIS/
EIR and will consider all information from outreach activities when 
preparing the EIS/EIR. The Project will study options for providing 
intercity passenger rail service between the cities of Los Angeles and 
Indio, California also known as the Coachella Valley--San Gorgonio Pass 
Corridor (the Corridor).

DATES: Persons interested in providing written comments on the scope of 
the Coachella Valley--San Gorgonio Pass

[[Page 70258]]

Rail Corridor Service Project must do so by November 10, 2016.
    Three public scoping meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, October 
12, 2016; Thursday, October 13, 2016; and Monday, October 17, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons should send written comments to FRA's 
Office of Program Delivery, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE. (Mail Stop 20), 
Washington, DC 20590, or Riverside County Transportation Commission 
(RCTC), 4080 Lemon Street, 3rd Floor, Riverside, California 92501, or 
via email to Robert Yates, Multimodal Services Director, 
CoachellaValleyRail@ArellanoAssociates.com. Comments should include 
``Coachella Valley--San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service--NOI 
Scoping Comments'' in the subject line.
    Interested persons may also provide comments orally or in writing 
at the following scoping meetings:
     Springbrook Club House at Reid Park: 1101 N. Orange Street 
Riverside, CA 92501, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.;
     Indio Senior Center: 45-700 Aladdin Street, Indio, CA 
92201, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; and
     Metro Headquarters, Plaza Level: One Gateway Plaza, Los 
Angeles, California 90012, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
    All scoping meeting locations are Americans with Disabilities Act 
of 1990 (ADA) accessible. Spanish language translators will be present. 
You may call (909) 627-2974 at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting 
to request other accommodations or translation services.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Stephanie Perez, Environmental 
Protection Specialist, Office of Program Delivery, Federal Railroad 
Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE. (Mail Stop 20), Washington, 
DC 20590; Telephone: (202) 493-0388, email: stephanie.perez@dot.gov, or 
Robert Yates, Multimodal Services Director, at 
CoachellaValleyRail@ArellanoAssociates.com.
    Scoping materials and information concerning the scoping meeting is 
available through RCTC's Web site: http://rctc.org/projects/rail-projects/coachella-valley-san-gorgonio-pass-corridor-rail-service.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FRA is an operating administration of DOT 
and is responsible for overseeing the safety of railroad operations, 
including the safety of any proposed rail transportation system. FRA 
also provides financial assistance for intercity passenger rail capital 
investments.
    FRA is the lead agency under NEPA for the Project. FRA will prepare 
the Programmatic EIS/EIR consistent with NEPA, the Council on 
Environmental Quality regulations implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-
1508), and FRA's Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (64 
FR 28545, May 26, 1999; 78 FR 2713, Jan. 14, 2013) (Environmental 
Procedures). FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will prepare the EIS consistent 
with 23 U.S.C. 139 (titled ``Efficient environmental reviews for 
project decision making''). RCTC and Caltrans will ensure the EIR is 
consistent with CEQA. After release and circulation of a Draft 
Programmatic EIS/EIR for public comment, FRA will issue a single 
document consisting of the Final Programmatic EIS and a Record of 
Decision under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (Pub. L. 
114-94, section 1304(n)(2)) unless it determines that statutory 
criteria or practicability considerations prelude issuing a combined 
document.
    The EIS will also document FRA's compliance with other applicable 
Federal, state, and local laws including, Section 106 of the National 
Historic Preservation Act, Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of 
Transportation Act of 1966, the conformity requirements of the Clean 
Air Act, and Executive Order 12898 and U.S. DOT Order 5610.2(a) on 
Environmental Justice. FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will use a tiered NEPA 
process (e.g. Programmatic EIS/EIR) to complete the environmental 
review of the Project, under 40 CFR 1508.28 (titled ``Tiering'') and 
FRA's Environmental Procedures.
    ``Tiering'' is a staged environmental review process often applied 
to environmental review for complex transportation projects. When used, 
the initial phase of a tiered process addresses broad questions and 
likely environmental effects for the Corridor including, but not 
limited to, the type of service(s) being proposed, major infrastructure 
components, and identification of major facility capacity constraints. 
Based on the decisions made in the Programmatic EIS/EIR, future site-
specific proposals would be analyzed at a greater level of detail and 
addressed in subsequent phases or tiered (e.g. Project-level NEPA and 
CEQA) environmental documents.

Project Description and Background

    The Project would extend from an eastern terminus in Indio, 
California to the western terminus at Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS), 
and is approximately 141 miles long. In 1991, RCTC completed the first 
in a series of studies evaluating the feasibility of operating one or 
two daily intercity rail round trips between Los Angeles and Indio. 
From 1991 to 2013, RCTC completed additional feasibility studies on the 
Coachella Valley--San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service. In July 
2016, RCTC, in coordination with Caltrans and FRA, prepared and 
completed the Coachella Valley--San Gorgonio Pass Rail Corridor Service 
Study Alternatives Analysis Final Report that evaluated a reasonable 
range of alternatives for a new intercity rail service between Los 
Angeles and Indio. The purpose of the Alternatives Analysis was to 
identify an alternative(s) for more detailed evaluation in a subsequent 
Service Development Plan and Programmatic EIS/EIR.

Project Need

    The Corridor currently faces significant mobility challenges that 
are likely to continue as growth in population, employment, and tourism 
activity is expected to increase travel demand. An effective rail 
system will help meet the future mobility needs of residents, 
businesses, and visitors. The Corridor faces continuing transportation 
challenges as evidenced by the following:
    Constrained Travel Options--While a transportation system that 
includes air, highway, and rail modes, serves the Corridor, access and 
capacity are presently constrained along certain segments and may be 
unable to meet future travel demand. Air access is limited for many 
residents due to distance from major airports, frequency, and high cost 
of flights between the Coachella Valley region and Los Angeles. 
Interstate 10 is the only major highway that serves the eastern portion 
of the Corridor. Amtrak offers limited long distance passenger train 
service three times a week with a stop in Palm Springs late at night.
    Significant Highway Congestion--While travel by car is expected to 
meet the majority of future travel demand, increased use will result in 
additional congestion. Congestion along certain highway segments of the 
Corridor is likely to worsen, making travel times unreliable. 
Interstate 10 follows the entirety of the Corridor and experiences 
regular congestion and travel delays. In addition, geographic 
constraints limit the potential expansion of the existing highway 
system.
    Constrained Rail System Capacity--Existing corridor rail service 
could accommodate an increasing portion of projected travel demand 
growth by providing an alternative mode to car travel. However, rail 
service is currently constrained and existing infrastructure would need 
to be upgraded to provide adequate main track capacity for additional 
passenger trains.

[[Page 70259]]

    Increase Travel Capacity Without Impacting Air Quality and Natural 
Resources - Highway capacity improvements can have negative impacts on 
regional and local air quality as well as the efficient use of natural 
resources. Rail system improvements offer the opportunity to achieve 
air quality benefits with fewer potential impacts on natural resources.

Project Purpose and Objectives

    The overall purpose of the Project is to provide a safe, reliable, 
and convenient intercity passenger rail service that would meet the 
future mobility needs of residents, businesses, and visitors within the 
Corridor. The Project would achieve the following objectives:
     Provide travelers between the Coachella Valley and the Los 
Angeles Basin with a public transportation service that offers more 
convenient and competitive trip times, better station access, and more 
frequency, than currently-available public transportation services;
     Provide travelers between the Coachella Valley and the Los 
Angeles Basin with an alternative to driving that offers reliable 
travel schedules;
     Provide travelers between the Coachella Valley and the Los 
Angeles Basin with a transportation service that is affordable;
     Serve a range of trip purposes traveling between the 
Coachella Valley and the Los Angeles Basin, particularly including 
business, social, medical, leisure, and recreational trips;
     Improve regional travel opportunities between the 
Coachella Valley and the Los Angeles Basin for transit dependent 
people;
     Serve the expected population growth in the Coachella 
Valley and the Los Angeles Basin; and
     Not preclude, by choice of alignment or technology, a 
possible future Corridor expansion between the Coachella Valley and 
Phoenix.
    The Project would provide enhanced passenger rail service and is 
consistent with State and regional efforts to reduce mobile source 
emissions associated with highway and truck traffic on parallel 
highways from Los Angeles to Indio. These efforts are anticipated to 
help the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and RCTC 
meet the air pollution and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets 
mandated by California Assembly Bill 32, known as the Global Warming 
Solutions Act of 2006, as amended, and California Senate Bill 375, 
known as the California's Sustainable Communities and Climate 
Protection Act of 2008. These two laws establish the basis for SCAG and 
RCTC to accommodate regional growth through increased and more frequent 
access to alternative modes of transit for local communities.

Proposed Project Alternatives

    In the Programmatic EIS/EIR FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will evaluate 
and analyze a No Build Alternative and at least one Build Alternative 
consisting of multiple improvements between Indio and Los Angeles.
    No Build Alternative--The No Build Alternative provides a baseline 
for comparison to the Build Alternative. This alternative represents 
the existing California transportation system (highway, air, and rail) 
as it would exist after completion of programs or projects currently 
funded or being implemented. The No Build Alternative would draw upon 
the following sources of information:
     State Transportation Improvement Program (2016);
     Regional Transportation Plans for all modes of travel;
     Airport plans; and
     Passenger rail plans.
    Build Alternative--The Build Alternative would include the 
necessary infrastructure improvements to meet the Project's purpose and 
need. The Build Alternative is made up of two components, a route 
alignment and station alternatives.
    FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will consider the July 2016 Alternatives 
Analysis Final Report when identifying the Build Alternative(s) for 
detailed analysis in the Programmatic EIS/EIS. However, additional 
reasonable build alternatives meeting the proposed purpose and need but 
not considered in the July 2016 Alternatives Analysis Final Report may 
be developed during the scoping process. This may also involve refining 
the Build Alternative as more information comes available based on the 
environmental analysis and coordination with stakeholders and the 
public. Additionally, the proposed purpose and need may be updated and/
or refined based on coordination with stakeholders and the public.

Probable Effects

    The Programmatic EIS/EIR will consider the potential environmental 
effects of the Project Alternatives. FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans will 
analyze the following environmental issue areas in the Programmatic 
EIS/EIR: Agricultural Lands; Air Quality and Global Climate Change; 
Biological and Wetland Resources; Cultural and Historic Resources; 
Economic and Fiscal Impacts; Energy; Environmental Justice; 
Floodplains, Hydrology, and Water Quality; Geology, Soils, and 
Seismicity; Hazardous Waste and Materials; Land Use, Planning, and 
Communities; Noise and Vibration; Parklands, Community Services, and 
Other Public Facilities; Safety and Security; Section 4(f) and 6(f) 
Resources; Transportation; and Visual Quality and Aesthetics.

Scoping and Comments

    FRA encourages broad participation in the EIS process during 
scoping and review of the resulting environmental documents. FRA 
invites all interested agencies, Native American Tribes, and the public 
at large to participate in the scoping process to ensure the 
Programmatic EIS/EIR addresses the full range of issues related to the 
proposed action, reasonable alternatives are addressed, and all 
significant issues are identified. FRA requests any public agency 
having jurisdiction over an aspect of the Project identify the agency's 
permit or environmental review requirements and the scope and content 
of the environmental information germane to the agency's jurisdiction 
over the Project. FRA requests public agencies 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 
Programmatic EIS/EIR.
    FRA will coordinate with participating agencies during development 
of the Draft Programmatic EIS under 23 U.S.C. 139. FRA will invite all 
Federal and non-Federal agencies and Native American Tribes that may 
have an interest in the Project to become participating agencies for 
the EIS. If an agency or Tribe is not invited and would like to 
participate, please contact FRA at the contact information listed 
above. FRA will develop a Coordination Plan summarizing how it will 
engage the public, agencies, and Tribes in the process. The 
Coordination Plan will be posted to the Project Web site http://rctc.org/projects/rail-projects/coachella-valley-san-gorgonio-pass-corridor-rail-service and to FRA's Web site fra.dot.gov. At various 
milestones during the development of the Programmatic EIS/EIR, FRA, 
RCTC, and Caltrans will provide additional opportunities for public and 
interested party input.
    FRA, RCTC, and Caltrans have scheduled three public scoping 
meetings as an important component of the scoping process for both the 
state and Federal environmental review. The scoping meetings described 
in the ADDRESSES section will also be advertised locally and included 
in

[[Page 70260]]

additional public notification. The format of the meeting will consist 
of a presentation describing the proposed Coachella Valley--San 
Gorgonio Pass Corridor Service Project, objectives, and existing 
conditions. Following the presentation, scoping meeting attendees will 
be able to participate in an open house format that encourages 
questions and comments on the Project from the public.

Felicia Young,
Acting Director, Office of Program Delivery.
[FR Doc. 2016-24597 Filed 10-6-16; 4:15 pm]
 BILLING CODE 4910-06-P