Notice of Availability of New Starts and Small Starts Policy Guidance
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is issuing final policy guidance to sponsors of New Starts and Small Starts projects. This guidance is available both on the docket and the agency's public Web site. This final guidance includes changes made in response to comments received on the guidance proposed in January 2013, and accompanies the final rule for Major Capital Investment Projects promulgated in January 2013. The rule sets the framework for the New Starts and Small Starts evaluation and rating process; the policy guidance complements the rule by providing technical details about the methods for calculating the project justification and local financial commitment criteria used to evaluate and rate New Starts and Small Starts projects.
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study, Virginia
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) are planning to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study (VBTES). The VBTES will examine extending transit service from the eastern terminus of Norfolk's existing Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, ``The Tide,'' at Newtown Road to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront either along the former Norfolk Southern Railroad right-of-way (NSRR ROW) that runs from Newtown Road to Birdneck Road or along the NSRR ROW to Laskin Road then onto Birdneck Road. From Birdneck Road, both alignments would extend onto 19th Street terminating at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. In 2000, FTA and HRT prepared the Norfolk-Virginia Beach East/West Light Rail Transit System Final EIS. This document looked at an 18-mile transit system connecting downtown Norfolk to the Pavilion area of Virginia Beach. In 2009, FTA and HRT began a Supplemental EIS for the VBTES that intended to evaluate changes in the project corridor since the 2000 EIS. As the Supplemental EIS progressed, FTA and HRT began studying an additional alternative alignment along Laskin Road. This alternative alignment and the additional amount of time that elapsed since work began on the Supplemental EIS led FTA to determine that a Supplemental EIS was no longer appropriate for the VBTES and instead a new EIS should be prepared. Pursuant to 23 CFR 771.123(a), FTA and HRT now issue this Notice of Intent (NOI) for an EIS for the VBTES. Although the VBTES has been under consideration in some form since the 1980's, and was included in the 2000 Final EIS, this EIS will specifically rely on relevant information that has been developed over the last several years since the 2009 Supplemental EIS was proposed. The EIS for the VBTES will be prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This NOI initiates formal scoping for the EIS, invites interested parties to participate in the process, provides information about the purpose and need for the study, includes the alternatives being considered for evaluation in the EIS, and identifies potential environmental effects to be considered. HRT began its VBTES public involvement process in 2009. It held frequent public meetings in 2010, 2012, and 2013, and continues to receive public comments on the study today. HRT plans additional public meetings for September 2013 and November 2013. These continued opportunities for public involvement in the VBTES means no formal public scoping meetings are planned to be held for this EIS. In 2009 and 2013, HRT, in coordination with FTA, contacted interested party agencies for the VBTES. As such, agencies that have previously responded to invitations to engage in the VBTES process will remain as interested parties on the study and are not required to formally respond to this notice.