[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 15 (Monday, January 25, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 3956-3958]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-1332]



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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Proposed 
Transit Improvements in the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2, Eastern 
Portion of Los Angeles County, CA

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration, DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Los Angeles 
County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) intend to prepare 
an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Eastside Transit 
Corridor Phase 2 Project in Los Angeles County, California. LACMTA 
operates the Metro transit system in Los Angeles County. The proposed 
project would provide a continuation of the Metro Gold Line Eastside 
Extension, a light rail transit line (LRT), from Union Station in 
downtown Los Angeles to East Los Angeles. This connection between 
Downtown Los Angeles and the growing Eastside is consistent with 
regional transportation and land use plans. Phase 2 would expand upon 
the Gold Line Eastside Extension investment and bring improved, high-
capacity transit service as far east as Whittier or South El Monte, 
connecting the cities of Commerce, Monterey Park, Montebello, Rosemead, 
South El Monte, Pico Rivera, Santa Fe Springs and Whittier, and 
unincorporated portions of Los Angeles County which include east Los 
Angeles and west Whittier-Los Nietos.
    The EIS will be prepared in accordance with the requirements of the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its implementing 
regulations. LACMTA will also use the EIS document to comply with the 
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which requires an 
Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The purpose of this notice is to 
alert interested parties regarding the intent to prepare the EIS, to 
provide information on the nature of the proposed project and possible 
alternatives, to invite public participation in the EIS process 
(including providing comments on the scope of the Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement (DEIS)), to announce that public scoping meetings will 
be conducted, and to identify participating and cooperating agency 
contacts.

DATES: Written comments on the scope of the EIS, including the 
project's purpose and need, the alternatives to be considered, the 
impacts to be evaluated, and the methodologies to be used in the 
evaluations should be sent to LACMTA on or before April 14, 2010, at 
the address below. See ADDRESSES below for the address to which written 
public comments may be sent. Public scoping meetings to accept comments 
on the scope of the EIS/EIR will be held on the following dates:
     Monday, February 22, 2010; 6 to 8 p.m. at the Pico Women's 
Center, 9214 Mines Avenue, Pico Rivera, CA.
     Wednesday, February 24, 2010; 6 to 8 p.m. at the South El 
Monte Senior Center/Dining Room, 1556 Central Avenue, South El Monte, 
CA.
     Thursday, February 25, 2010; 6 to 8 p.m. at the Senior 
Center at City Park--South Wing, 115 South Taylor Avenue, Montebello, 
CA.
     Saturday, February 27, 2010; 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the 
Salvation Army Santa Fe Springs--Studio 12000, 12000 East Washington 
Boulevard, Whittier, CA.
    The project's purpose and need and the description of alternatives 
for the proposed project will be presented at these meetings. The 
buildings used for the scoping meetings are accessible to persons with 
disabilities. Any individual who requires special assistance, such as a 
sign language interpreter, to participate in the scoping meeting should 
contact Ms. Kimberly Yu, Transportation Planning Manager, LACMTA, at 
(213) 922-7910, or yuki@metro.net.
    Scoping materials will be available at the meetings and on the 
LACMTA Web site (http://www.metro.net/eastsidephase2). Paper copies of 
the scoping materials may also be obtained from Ms. Ann Kerman, 
Outreach Project Manager, LACMTA, at (213) 922-7671, or 
kermana@metro.net. An interagency scoping meeting will be held on 
Thursday, February 18, 2010, at 10 a.m. at LACMTA, in the Windsor 
Conference Room, 15th Floor, One Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012. 
Representatives of Native American Tribal governments and of all 
Federal, State, regional and local agencies that may have an interest 
in any aspect of the project will be invited to be participating or 
cooperating agencies, as appropriate.

ADDRESSES: Comments will be accepted at the public scoping meetings or 
they may be sent to Ms. Kimberly Yu, Project Manager, Los Angeles 
County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, One Gateway Plaza, Mail 
Stop 99-22-2, Los Angeles, CA 90012, or via e-mail at yuki@metro.net. 
The locations of the public scoping meetings are given above under 
DATES.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Ray Tellis, Team Leader, Los 
Angeles Metropolitan Office, Federal Transit Administration, 888 South 
Figueroa Street, Suite 1850, Los Angeles, CA 90017, phone (213) 202-
3950, e-mail ray.tellis@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Scoping

    Scoping is the process of determining the scope, focus and content 
of an EIS. FTA and LACMTA invite all interested individuals and 
organizations, public agencies, and Native American Tribes to comment 
on the scope of the Draft EIS, including the project's purpose and 
need, the alternatives to be studied, the impacts to be evaluated, and 
the evaluation methods to be used. Comments should focus on: 
Alternatives that may be less costly or have less environmental or 
community impacts while achieving similar transportation objectives, 
and the identification of any significant social, economic, or 
environmental issues relating to the alternatives.
    NEPA ``scoping'' has specific and fairly limited objectives, one of 
which is to identify the significant issues associated with 
alternatives that will be examined in detail in the document, while 
simultaneously limiting consideration and development of issues that 
are not truly significant. It is in the NEPA scoping process that 
potentially significant environmental impacts--those that give rise to 
the need to prepare an environmental impact statement--should be 
identified; impacts that are deemed not to be significant need not be 
developed extensively in the context of the impact statement, thereby 
keeping the statement focused on impacts of consequence. Transit 
projects may also generate environmental benefits; these should be 
highlighted as well--the impact statement process should draw attention 
to positive impacts, not just negative impacts.
    Once the scope of the environmental study, including significant 
environmental issues to be addressed, is settled, an annotated outline 
of the document will be prepared and shared with interested agencies 
and the public. The outline serves at least three worthy purposes, 
including (1) Documenting the results of the scoping process; (2) 
contributing to the transparency of the process; and (3) providing a 
clear roadmap for concise development of the environmental document.
    In the interest of producing a readable and user-friendly public 
document, and pursuant to 40 CFR 1502.10, the EIS

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shall be limited to 250 pages exclusive of any 4(f) and/or 6(f) 
evaluation. The EIS should emphasize graphics and virtual visual 
simulations over technical jargon, and technical appendices shall be 
included in a separate volume.

Project Initiation

    The FTA and LACMTA will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement/
Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for the Eastside Transit Corridor 
Phase 2 Project pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 139 and the California 
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). LACMTA is serving as the local lead 
agency for purposes of CEQA environmental clearance, and FTA is serving 
as the Federal lead agency for purposes of National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) environmental clearance. This notice shall alert 
interested parties to the preparation of the EIS/EIR, describe the 
alternatives under consideration, invite public participation in the 
EIS/EIR process, and announce the public scoping meetings. FTA and 
LACMTA will invite interested Federal, State, Tribal, regional and 
local government agencies to be participating agencies under the 
provisions of Section 6002 of SAFETEA-LU.

Purpose and Need for the Project

    The purpose of this project is to improve public transit service 
and mobility in the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2. The project 
would provide the study area with improved fixed-guideway east-west 
transit service from the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension (Phase 1) 
to cities farther east of the city of Los Angeles. Possible eastern 
extensions from the Metro Gold Line Phase 1 terminus at Atlantic 
Boulevard would generally continue east parallel to or along State 
Route 60 or south along Garfield Avenue, turning southeast along 
Washington Boulevard. The overall goal of the proposed project is to 
improve mobility in the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 by extending 
the benefits of the existing Metro Gold Line and bus investments beyond 
the current terminus. Mobility problems and potential improvements for 
this corridor have been well documented in many studies that are 
available from Metro's Records Management Department, including 
numerous Metro Red Line planning studies, Eastside Transit Corridor 
Studies: Re-Evaluation Major Investment Study (2000), the Eastside 
Transit Corridor Phase 2 Final Alternatives Analysis Report (2009), the 
Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 Alternatives Analysis Addendum 
(2009), Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) planning 
studies, the Metro Rapid Demonstration Project (2000), and in the 
Southern California Association of Governments' Regional Transportation 
Plan (2004).
    The Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 is identified in the LACMTA's 
Long Range Plan and has been selected as one of the many transit and 
highway projects to receive local Measure R funding. Additional 
considerations supporting the project's need include: (1) The 
concentration of activity centers and destinations dispersed throughout 
the project area, such as Montebello Town Center, Monterey Park Mall, 
Pico Rivera Town Center, Industry Office Park, Santa Fe Springs 
Promenade, Uptown Whittier District, and Whittier Narrows Recreation 
Center, which have a high volume of pedestrian activity and attract 
residents from within and outside of the study area; (2) over the next 
20 years, population is expected to grow by nearly 24%, for a total of 
830,000, and employment is also expected to increase 15%, for a total 
of 384,000 jobs; (3) increasing traffic congestion on the highway and 
arterial network throughout the project area; (4) transit-supportive 
General Plans in the cities of Commerce, Montebello, Monterey Park, 
Pico Rivera, Rosemead, Whittier, and county of Los Angeles; (5) 
significant transit dependent population in western and eastern 
portions of the project area; and (6) emerging travel demand patterns 
associated with a job-rich study area that has led to significant 
westbound congestion during the morning rush hours and corresponding 
eastbound congestion during the evening rush hours.

Project Location and Environmental Setting

    The Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 Project is located in eastern 
Los Angeles County and is generally bounded by Pomona Boulevard and 
State Route 60 (SR-60) Freeway to the north, Peck Road and Painter 
Avenue to the east, Olympic and Washington Boulevards to the south, and 
Atlantic Boulevard to the west. The project area consists of portions 
of eight jurisdictions, including the cities of Commerce, Montebello, 
Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, Rosemead, Santa Fe Springs, South El Monte, 
Whittier and portions of unincorporated Los Angeles County which 
includes east Los Angeles and west Whittier-Los Nietos. A diverse mix 
of land uses are located within the project area, including single- and 
multi-family residences, commercial and retail uses, industrial 
development, parks and recreational uses including the Whittier Narrows 
Recreation Center, health and medical uses, educational institutions, 
flood control facilities, and vacant land.
    The proposed Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 project would 
connect to the eastern terminus of the Metro Gold Line Eastside 
Extension. In conjunction with the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension, 
the project would provide through transit service between downtown Los 
Angeles and eastern Los Angeles County.
    The two alternatives, Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, would begin 
at the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension terminus at Atlantic 
Boulevard and Pomona Boulevard and continue either east along SR-60 
Freeway or southeast along Garfield Avenue and Washington Boulevard. 
Stations plus associated parking, traction power substations (TPSS), 
and a maintenance yard would be part of each LRT alternative.

Alternatives

    The Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 Alternatives Analysis Report 
(2009) and further refinement documented in the Alternatives Analysis 
Report Addendum, prepared for LACMTA, identified four alternatives for 
further consideration in the EIS/EIR. The four alternatives include: A 
No-Build Alternative, Transportation System Management (TSM) 
Alternative, SR-60 LRT Alternative, and Washington Boulevard LRT 
Alternative.
    No-Build Alternative: The No-Build Alternative would maintain 
existing transit service through the year 2035. No new transportation 
infrastructure would be built within the project area aside from 
projects currently under construction, or funded for construction and 
operation by 2035 by the recently approved Measure R sales tax. This 
alternative will include the highway and transit projects in the 
current Metro Long Range Transportation Plan and the 2035 Southern 
California Association of Governments Regional Transportation Plan. The 
completion of the Metro Rapid Bus Program would be included as well as 
possible additional feeder bus networks to serve the region's major 
activity centers.
    Transportation System Management (TSM) Alternative: The DEIS/DEIR 
will evaluate transportation and environmental effects of modest 
improvements in the highway and transit systems beyond those in the No-
Build Alternative. The TSM Alternative would include low-cost 
improvements to the No-Build Alternative to reduce delay and enhance 
mobility. The TSM Alternative would emphasize transportation system 
upgrades, such as intersection improvements, minor road widening, 
traffic engineering actions,

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bus route restructuring, shortened bus headways, expanded use of 
articulated buses, reserved bus lanes, expanded park-and-ride 
facilities, express and limited-stop service, signalization 
improvements, and timed-transfer operations. Key elements of the TSM 
Alternative include: Providing new Pomona Freeway Express service 
connecting to the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension terminus; 
providing new Beverly Boulevard Rapid bus service; adding service to 
M10 Whittier Boulevard and M50 Washington Boulevard bus routes; 
upgrading M30 Garfield Avenue and M20 Montebello Boulevard bus lines; 
adding service to Metro 265 and 266 local buses; adding service to 
Foothill Transit 274; and providing new 577 Express service operating 
along Metro Route 270.
    SR-60 LRT Alternative: This build alternative alignment extends 
approximately 6.9 miles east with a street level, at-grade system from 
the current Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension terminus at Atlantic 
Boulevard and Pomona Boulevard and transitions to an aerial 
configuration along the south edge of the SR-60 Freeway, within the 
right-of-way, to Peck Road. A total of four aerial stations are 
proposed under this alternative with locations at SR-60 and Garfield 
Avenue, SR-60 and Montebello Town Center, SR-60 and Santa Anita Avenue, 
and SR-60 and Peck Road.
    Washington Boulevard LRT Alternative: This build alternative 
alignment extends east with a street level, at-grade system from the 
current Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension terminus at Atlantic 
Boulevard and Pomona Boulevard and transitions to an aerial 
configuration along the south edge of the SR-60 Freeway. The aerial 
alignment turns and continues south on Garfield Avenue, and then 
continues southeast along Washington Boulevard to a terminus east of 
Lambert Road. This alternative is approximately 9.3 miles in length, 
with a total of six aerial stations located at SR-60 and Garfield 
Avenue, Garfield Avenue and Whittier Boulevard, Washington Boulevard 
and Greenwood Avenue, Washington and Rosemead Boulevards, Washington 
and Norwalk Boulevards, and Washington Boulevard and Lambert Road.

Probable Effects

    The purpose of this EIS/EIR process is to study, in a public 
setting, the effects of the proposed project and its alternatives on 
the physical, human, and natural environment. The FTA and LACMTA will 
evaluate all significant environmental, social, and economic impacts of 
the construction and operation of the proposed project. The probable 
impacts will be determined as a part of project scoping. Unless further 
screening illuminates areas of possible impact, resource areas will be 
limited to those uncovered during scoping. Measures to avoid, minimize, 
and mitigate adverse impacts will also be identified and evaluated.

FTA Procedures

    The regulations implementing NEPA, as well as provisions of the 
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A 
Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), call for public involvement in the EIS 
process. Section 6002 of SAFETEA-LU requires that FTA and LACMTA do the 
following: (1) Extend an invitation to other Federal and non-Federal 
agencies and Native American Tribes that may have an interest in the 
proposed project to become ``participating agencies;'' (2) provide an 
opportunity for involvement by participating agencies and the public to 
help define the purpose and need for a proposed project, as well as the 
range of alternatives for consideration in the EIS; and (3) establish a 
plan for coordinating public and agency participation in, and comment 
on, the environmental review process. An invitation to become a 
participating or cooperating agency, with scoping materials appended, 
will be extended to other Federal and non-Federal agencies and Native 
American Tribes that may have an interest in the proposed project. It 
is possible that FTA and LACMTA will not be able to identify all 
Federal and non-Federal agencies and Native American Tribes that may 
have such an interest. Any Federal or non-Federal agency or Native 
American Tribe interested in the proposed project that does not receive 
an invitation to become a participating agency should notify at the 
earliest opportunity the Project Manager identified above under 
ADDRESSES.
    A comprehensive public involvement program and a Coordination Plan 
for public and interagency involvement will be developed for the 
project and posted on LACMTA's Web site (Eastside Transit Corridor 
Phase 2 Project Web page: http://www.metro.net/eastsidephase2). The 
public involvement program includes a full range of activities 
including the project Web page on the LACMTA Web site, development and 
distribution of project newsletters, and outreach to local officials, 
community and civic groups, and the public. Specific activities or 
events for involvement will be detailed in the public involvement 
program.
    LACMTA may seek New Starts funding for the proposed project under 
49 United States Code 5309 and will, therefore, be subject to New 
Starts regulations (49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 611). The 
New Starts regulations also require the submission of certain project-
justification information to support a request to initiate preliminary 
engineering. This information is normally developed in conjunction with 
the NEPA process. Pertinent New Starts evaluation criteria will be 
included in the EIS.
    The EIS will be prepared in accordance with NEPA and its 
implementing regulations issued by the Council on Environmental Quality 
(40 CFR Parts 1500-1508) and with the FTA/Federal Highway 
Administration regulations ``Environmental Impact and Related 
Procedures'' (23 CFR Part 771). In accordance with 23 CFR Part 
771.105(a) and 23 CFR Part 774, FTA will comply with all Federal 
environmental laws, regulations, and executive orders applicable to the 
proposed project during the environmental review process to the maximum 
extent practicable. These requirements include, but are not limited to, 
the environmental and public hearing provisions of Federal transit laws 
(49 U.S.C. 5301(e), 5323(b), and 5324); the project-level air quality 
conformity regulation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
(40 CFR Part 93); the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines of EPA (40 CFR Part 
230); the regulation implementing Section 106 of the National Historic 
Preservation Act (36 CFR Part 800); the regulation implementing Section 
7 of the Endangered Species Act (50 CFR Part 402); Section 4(f) of the 
Department of Transportation Act (23 CFR Part 774); and Executive 
Orders 12898 on environmental justice, 11988 on floodplain management, 
and 11990 on wetlands.

    Issued on: January 20, 2010.
Leslie T. Rogers,
Regional Administrator, Region IX, Federal Transit Administration.
[FR Doc. 2010-1332 Filed 1-22-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-57-P