Surface Transportation Board February 12, 2008 – Federal Register Recent Federal Regulation Documents
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The Alaska Railroad Corporation-Petition for Exemption To Construct and Operate a Rail Line Extension to Port MacKenzie, AK
The Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) plans to file a petition with the Surface Transportation Board (Board) pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 10502 for authority to construct and operate approximately 30 to 45 miles of new rail line connecting the Matanuska-Susitna Borough's Port MacKenzie (or Port) in south-central Alaska to a point on the ARRC main line between Wasilla and north of Willow, Alaska. The proposed Port MacKenzie Rail Extension (or Project) would provide freight services between the Port and Interior Alaska and would support the Port's continuing development as an intermodal and bulk material resources export and import facility. The Port is owned by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough (MSB) and MSB is a co-sponsor of the Project. Because the construction and operation of this Project has the potential to result in significant environmental impacts, the Board's Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA) has determined that the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is appropriate pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). The purpose of this Notice of Intent is to notify individuals and agencies interested in or affected by the proposed Project of the decision to prepare an EIS. SEA will hold public scoping meetings as part of the NEPA process associated with the development of the EIS. Additionally, as part of the scoping process, SEA has developed a draft Scope of Study for the EIS for review and comment. Public meeting dates and locations, along with the draft Scope of Study, are provided herein. Dates and Locations: The public scoping meetings will be held at the following locations: March 3, 2008, 5-8 p.m. at Knik Elementary School, 6350 West Hollywood, Wasilla, AK. March 4, 2008, 5-8 p.m. at Big Lake Elementary School, 3808 South Big Lake Road, Big Lake, AK. March 5, 2008, 5-8 p.m. at Willow Area Community Center, Mile 70 Parks Highway, Willow, AK. March 6, 2008, 5-8 p.m. at Houston Middle School, 12801 W. Hawk Lane, Houston, AK. March 10, 2008, 5-8 p.m., at Wasilla Multi-Use Sports Complex, 1001 S. Mack Drive, Wasilla, AK. March 11, 2008, 5-8 p.m. at Anchorage Senior Center, 1300 East 19th Avenue, Anchorage, AK. The scoping meetings will be held in an informal workshop format during which interested persons may ask questions about the proposed Project and the Board's environmental review process, and advise SEA staff about potential environmental effects of the Project. No formal presentations will be made by agency representatives. SEA staff will be available to answer questions and receive comments individually. The meeting locations comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.). Persons that need special accommodations should telephone SEA's toll-free number for the Project at 1-888-257-7560. Interested parties are invited to submit written comments on the draft Scope of Study, alternative routes for the proposed rail line, and other environmental issues and concerns by March 21, 2008, to assure full consideration during the scoping process. SEA will issue a final Scope of Study after the close of the scoping comment period. Summary of the Board's Environmental Review Process: The NEPA process is intended to assist the Board and the public in identifying and assessing the potential environmental consequences of a proposed action before a decision on the proposed action is made. SEA is responsible for ensuring that the Board complies with NEPA and related environmental statutes. The first stage of the EIS process is scoping. Scoping is an open process for determining the scope of environmental issues to be addressed in the EIS. As part of the scoping process, SEA has developed, and has made available in this notice, a draft Scope of Study for the EIS. Concurrently, scoping meetings will be held to provide further opportunities for public involvement and input during the scoping process. In addition to the Scope of Study, interested parties are also encouraged to comment on potential routes for the proposed Project. SEA is currently considering eight alternative routes that have been identified by MSB and ARRC. At the conclusion of the scoping and comment period, SEA will issue a final Scope of Study for the EIS. After issuing the final Scope of Study, SEA will prepare a Draft EIS for the Project. The Draft EIS will address the environmental issues and concerns identified during the scoping process. It will also contain SEA's preliminary recommendations for environmental mitigation measures. The Draft EIS will be made available upon its completion for review and comment by the public, government agencies, and other interested parties. SEA will prepare a Final EIS that considers comments on the Draft EIS. In reaching its decision in this case, the Board will take into account the Draft EIS, the Final EIS, and all environmental comments that are received. SEA has recently invited several agencies to participate in this EIS process as cooperating agencies on the basis of their special expertise or jurisdiction by law. These agencies include: U.S. Army Corps of EngineersAlaska District; Alaska Department of Natural Resources; and U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration. Filing Environmental Comments: Comments submitted by mail should be addressed to: David Navecky, Surface Transportation Board, 395 E Street, SW., Washington, DC 20423-0001, Attention: Environmental Filing, STB Finance Docket No. 35095. Comments may also be filed electronically on the Board's Web site, https://www.stb.dot.gov, by clicking on the ``E-FILING'' link. Please refer to STB Finance Docket No. 35095 in all correspondence, including e-filings, addressed to the Board. Comments are due by March 21, 2008.