Environmental Impact Statement; Lone Star Regional Rail Project, Williamson, Travis, Bastrop, Hays, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, and Bexar Counties, TX
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.
Environmental Impact and Related Procedures-Programmatic Agreements and Additional Categorical Exclusions
This final rule amends the FHWA and FTA joint procedures that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by adding new categorical exclusions (CE) for FHWA and FTA; allowing State departments of transportation (State DOT) to process certain CEs without FHWA's detailed project-by-project review and approval as long as the action meets specific constraints; and adding a new section on programmatic agreements between FHWA and State DOTs that allow State DOTs to apply FHWA CEs on FHWA's behalf, as described in section 1318 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).