[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 45 (Tuesday, March 9, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 10860-10862]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-4973]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


Preparation of an Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Impact 
Statement for High Capacity Transit Improvements for the Indianapolis 
Northeast Corridor in the Indiana Counties of Marion and Hamilton

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Department of 
Transportation.

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

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SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Central Indiana 
Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA), the Indianapolis 
Metropolitan Planning Organization (Indianapolis MPO) and Indianapolis 
Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo) intend to prepare an 
Alternatives Analysis/Environmental Impact Statement (AA/EIS) relating 
to proposed high capacity transit improvements in the Northeast 
Corridor located in the Indiana counties of Marion and Hamilton. The 
study area is an approximately 23-mile long travel corridor extending 
from downtown Indianapolis to the northern parts of Noblesville and 
includes the communities of Carmel and Fishers. Options to be 
considered include No-Build, Transportation System Management (TSM), 
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and Commuter Rail. The AA/EIS will be prepared 
in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) and its implementing regulations. The AA/EIS process 
provides opportunities for the public to comment on the scope of the 
EIS, including the project's purpose and need, the alternatives to be 
considered, and the impacts to be evaluated. The southern terminal of 
all alternatives will be Union Station or an adjacent transit center in 
downtown Indianapolis.
    The purpose of this notice is to alert interested parties regarding 
the intent to prepare the AA/EIS, to provide information on the nature 
of the proposed project and possible alternatives, to invite public 
participation in the AA/EIS process, including comments on the scope of 
the EIS as proposed in this notice, to announce that public scoping 
meetings will be conducted, and to identify participating agency 
contacts. This input will be used to assist decisionmakers in 
determining a locally preferred alternative (LPA) and Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Northeast Corridor. Upon 
selection of an LPA, the project sponsors will request permission from 
FTA to enter into preliminary engineering per requirements of New 
Starts regulations 49 CFR Part 611. The Final Environmental Impact 
Statement (FEIS) will be issued after FTA approves entrance into 
preliminary engineering.
    Dates, Times, and Locations: Comment Due Date: Written comments on 
the purpose and need for the proposed improvements, and the scope of 
alternatives and impacts to be considered should be sent to the 
Indianapolis MPO by April 30, 2010. Public scoping meetings to accept 
comments on the scope of the study will be held on the following dates:
     Wednesday, March 17 from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. in the 
Julia Carson Government Center located at 300 E Fall

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Creek Parkway N Dr., Indianapolis, Indiana.
     Wednesday, March 24 from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. in the 
Hamilton County Government Center located at One Hamilton County 
Square, Noblesville, Indiana.
    The public scoping meetings will be informal meetings in an open 
house format. Interested persons may ask questions about the proposal 
and the FTA's environmental review process. The project's purpose and 
need and the initial set of alternatives proposed for study will be 
presented at these meetings. CIRTA, MPO and IndyGO project team members 
will be available to answer questions and receive comments. Writing 
stations will be available to those who wish to submit written comments 
at the public scoping meetings. Project team members will be available 
to listen and make notes of residents' comments.
    The public scoping meeting locations comply with the Americans with 
Disabilities Act. Persons needing special accommodations should contact 
Anna M. Tyskiewicz, Project Manager, at (317) 327-5487 or 
atyszkie@indygov.org at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.
    Subsequent to the public scoping meetings, an interagency scoping 
meeting for Federal, State, regional and local resource and regulatory 
agencies will be held in April 2010. All appropriate agencies that may 
have an interest in this project, or have a potential interest in 
becoming a participating agency, will be notified of the meeting 
through separate direct correspondence.
    Submitting Comments on the Scope of the Study: Scoping materials 
will be available at the meetings and through the project's Web site at 
http://www.indyconnect.org. FTA, CIRTA, the Indianapolis MPO and IndyGo 
encourage broad participation in the AA/EIS process. All interested 
agencies, organizations, communities, and members of the public are 
invited to participate in the scoping process by reviewing and 
commenting on the scope of the AA/EIS.

ADDRESSES: Written comments on the scope of the AA/EIS may be submitted 
to the attention of Anna M. Tyskiewicz, Project Manager, Indianapolis 
Metropolitan Planning Organization, City County Building, Suite 1922, 
200 E. Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204, Phone: (317) 
327-5487, Fax (317) 327-5950, E-mail: atyszkie@indygov.org.
    Additional Information: Contact Reginald Arkell, Federal Transit 
Administration, Region 5, 200 W. Adams Street, Suite 320, Chicago, 
Illinois 60606, Phone: 312-886-3704, E-mail: reginald.arkell@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Scoping

    The FTA, the Indianapolis MPO and CIRTA invite all interested 
individuals, organizations, businesses, and Federal, State, and local 
agencies to participate in establishing the purpose and need, project 
alternatives, and methodologies of the environmental analysis approach 
for the AA/EIS, as well as participate in an active public involvement 
program. During the scoping process, the public is invited to comment 
on (a) the purpose and need; (b) the alternatives to be addressed; (c) 
the transit technologies to be evaluated; (d) the alignments and 
station locations to be considered; (e) the environmental, social, and 
economic impacts to be analyzed; and (f) the evaluation approach to be 
used to select the LPA.
    NEPA ``scoping'' (40 CFR 1501.7) is intended to identify the 
significant issues associated with alternatives that will be examined 
in detail and to limit consideration of issues that are not truly 
significant. It is in the NEPA scoping process that potentially 
significant environmental impacts should be identified. Environmental 
benefits will also be highlighted.
    Once the scope of the environmental study is defined, an annotated 
outline of the draft AA/EIS will be prepared and shared with interested 
agencies and the public. The outline will serve to: (1) Document the 
results of the scoping process; (2) contribute to the transparency of 
the process; and (3) provide a clear roadmap for concise development of 
the environmental document.
    Following the public scoping process, public outreach activities 
will continue with interested residents, stakeholders and groups 
throughout the AA/EIS process. The Web site, http://www.indyconnect.org, will be updated periodically to reflect the status 
of the project. Additional opportunities for public participation will 
be announced through mailings, notices, and press releases.

II. Description of Study Area and Project Need

    The Study Area includes the main travel corridors between downtown 
Indianapolis and the rapidly growing areas of Hamilton County, Indiana, 
including the communities of Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville, as well 
as the intervening high-density residential and commercial areas of 
northeastern and central Marion County. This is referred to as the 
Northeast Corridor. The length of this corridor, from downtown 
Indianapolis to the northern part of Noblesville, is approximately 23 
miles.
    This part of Indianapolis contains the region's most severe travel 
congestion and mobility challenges. Previous studies have shown that 
the Northeast Corridor, and particularly I-69 north of I-465, continues 
to face the worst traffic congestion in the region. Given growing 
mobility challenges, forecasted populations and employment growth 
coupled by a strong urban center near downtown Indianapolis, a 
potential promising alternative is investment in transit to supplement 
and enhance existing Indianapolis bus systems (IndyGo) and to extend 
services to new markets throughout this regional corridor.

III. Alternatives

    The proposed alternatives to be evaluated in the AA/EIS will 
include the following:
     No-Build Alternative: The No-Build Alternative is defined 
as the existing transportation system, plus any committed 
transportation improvements. Committed transportation improvements 
include projects that are already in the Indianapolis MPO and Indiana 
Department of Transportation (INDOT) financially constrained 
Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which includes added travel 
lanes and interchange improvements on I-69 and I-465.
     Transportation System Management (TSM) Alternative: A TSM 
Alternative, which reflects the best that can be done for mobility 
without constructing a new transit guideway, is required as part of the 
New Starts evaluation process. Bus service would operate in mixed 
traffic along I-69, Binford Boulevard, Fall Creek Parkway, and the 
Capitol Avenue/Illinois Street one-way pair between Noblesville and 
South Street in Indianapolis.
     Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Alternative: A dedicated busway 
with on-line stations and other related capital improvements would be 
constructed in the HHPA Railroad right-of-way between Noblesville and 
approximately 10th Street in Indianapolis, then operations would occur 
on-street in mixed traffic via the Capitol Avenue/Illinois Street one-
way pair to South Street.
     Commuter Rail Transit (CRT) Alternative: In the commuter 
rail transit alternative, two different train technologies will be 
considered--FRA compliant vehicles (suitable for mixed traffic with 
freight trains) and non-FRA

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compliant light rail vehicles. FRA compliant vehicles, which would 
include passenger coaches powered by diesel locomotives or diesel 
multiple units (DMUs), would operate on improved tracks in the HHPA 
Railroad right-of-way between Noblesville and approximately 10th Street 
in Indianapolis, then in the CSX Railroad right-of-way to Union 
Station. Non-FRA-compliant DMU light rail vehicles would operate on 
improved tracks in the HHPA Railroad right-of-way between Noblesville 
and approximately 10th Street in Indianapolis, then in the CSX Railroad 
right-of-way to Union Station. As an option for reaching a downtown 
transit center at or adjacent to Union Station, an alignment through 
the street network of downtown Indianapolis will be analyzed to avoid 
potential freight conflicts and to allow opportunities for additional 
stops in the core downtown employment district.
    Based on public and agency input received during scoping, 
variations of the above alternatives will be considered for the 
Northeast Corridor.

IV. Potential Impacts for Analysis

    The scoping process will identify which of the following 
environmental impact areas are most relevant to the project, and merit 
further exploration in the AA/EIS. The impact areas include: land use, 
zoning, potential displacements, parkland, economic development, 
community disruptions, environmental justice, aesthetics, air quality, 
noise and vibration, wildlife, vegetation, threatened and endangered 
species, farmland, water quality, wetlands, waterways, floodplains, 
hazardous materials, and cultural, historic and archaeological 
resources.
    The AA/EIS will take into account both positive and negative 
impacts, direct and indirect impacts, short-term and long-term impacts 
and site specific and corridor wide impacts. Evaluation criteria will 
be consistent with all Federal, State, and local criteria, regulations 
and policies. The AA/EIS will identify measures to avoid or mitigate 
significant adverse environmental impacts.
    To ensure that all significant issues related to this proposed 
action are identified and addressed, scoping comments and suggestions 
are invited from all interested parties.
    The Public Involvement Program will include a full range of 
involvement activities. Activities will include outreach to local and 
regional officials and community and civic groups; a public scoping 
process to define the issues of concern among all parties interested in 
the project; organizing periodic meetings with various local agencies, 
organizations and committees; a public hearing on release of the DEIS; 
and development and distribution of project newsletters. There will be 
additional opportunities to participate in the scoping process in 
addition to the public meetings announced in this notice. Specific 
mechanisms for involvement will be detailed in the Public Involvement 
Program.

V. Evaluation Criteria

    The Indianapolis MPO may seek New Starts funding for the proposed 
project under 49 U.S.C. 5309 and will therefore be subject to New 
Starts regulations (49 CFR Part 611). The New Starts regulations 
require a planning Alternatives Analysis that leads to the selection of 
a locally preferred alternative and inclusion of the locally preferred 
alternative as part of the long-range transportation plan adopted by 
the Indianapolis MPO. The New Starts regulations also require the 
submission of certain project-justification information in support of a 
request to initiate preliminary engineering, which is normally 
developed in conjunction with the NEPA process. Pertinent New Starts 
evaluation criteria will be included in an appendix of the FEIS.

VI. The EIS Process and the Role of Participating Agencies and the 
Public

    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 AA/
EIS process. Section 6002 of SAFETEA-LU requires 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 AA/EIS; and (3) 
establish a plan for coordinating public and agency participation in, 
and comment on, the environmental review process.
    The AA/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 771.105(a) 
and 771.133, 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 771.135), and Executive Orders 
12898 on environmental justice, 11988 on floodplain management.

    Issued on: March 3, 2010.
Marisol Sim[oacute]n,
Regional Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2010-4973 Filed 3-8-10; 8:45 am]
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