[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 130 (Thursday, July 8, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 39326-39329]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-16599]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Implementation of 
Rail Passenger Service on the Cotton Belt Corridor

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), as the Federal lead 
agency, and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) intend to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to study the implementation of 
rail passenger service on the 26-mile long Cotton Belt Corridor from 
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFWIA) in Tarrant County, 
Texas, through a large portion of northwest Dallas County, to the 
existing DART Red Line Light Rail Transit (LRT) corridor in the Cities 
of Plano and Richardson in Collin County, Texas. The primary purpose of 
the Cotton Belt Corridor Regional Rail Project is to provide passenger 
rail connections that will improve mobility, accessibility and system 
linkages to major employment, population and activity centers. The 
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), having jurisdiction over 
airports, is being requested to be a cooperating agency in this study. 
The purpose of this Notice is to alert interested parties regarding the 
plan to prepare the EIS, to provide information on the nature of the 
proposed transit project, to invite participation in the EIS process, 
including comments on the scope of the EIS proposed in this notice, and 
to announce that public scoping meetings will be conducted.

DATES: Comment Due Date: Written comments on the scope of the EIS, 
including the preliminary statement of 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 DART by 
August 30, 2010. See ADDRESSES below for the address to which written 
public comments may be sent. Scoping Meetings: The public scoping 
meeting will be held on
     Thursday, July 29, 2010, at 6:30 p.m. at the Addison 
Conference Center, 15650 Addison Road, Addison, TX.
    Please notify the DART Community Affairs representative at (214) 
749-2590 at least one week in advance of the meeting date if language 
translation or hearing-impaired signing is needed. The

[[Page 39327]]

building used for the scoping meeting is accessible to persons with 
disabilities.
    Scoping materials describing the project purpose and need and the 
alternatives proposed for analysis will be available at the meetings 
and on the DART Web site at http://www.dart.org/cottonbelt.
    An interagency scoping meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 28, 
2010 at 10 a.m. at DART Headquarters, in the Board Room, located at 
1401 Pacific Avenue in Dallas, TX. 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: Written comments on the project scope should be sent to John 
Hoppie, Project Manager, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, P.O. Box 660163, 
Dallas, TX 75266-7213. Telephone: (214) 749-2525, Fax: (214) 749-3844, 
or via e-mail: jhoppie@dart.org. Comments may also be offered at the 
public scoping meetings identified under DATES above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Lynn Hayes, Community Planner, 
Federal Transit Administration, Region 6, 819 Taylor Street, Room 8A36, 
Fort Worth, Texas 76102, Telephone: (817) 978-0550; Fax (817) 978-0575, 
or e-mail: Lynn.Hayes@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Scoping and Background

    FTA and DART invite all interested individuals, organizations, 
public agencies, and Native American Tribes to comment on the scope of 
the EIS, specifically on the proposed project's purpose and need, the 
alternatives to be evaluated that may address the purpose and need, the 
impacts of the alternatives considered, and the evaluation methods to 
be used. Comments should address (1) feasible alternatives that may 
better achieve the project's need and purpose with fewer adverse 
impacts, and (2) any significant environmental impacts relating to the 
alternatives. To ensure that these issues are identified, the scoping 
meetings will begin with a formal presentation followed by the 
opportunity for the public to comment on the scope of the EIS. Oral and 
written comments may be given at the scoping meetings; a court reporter 
will record all comments. Written comments may be submitted at the 
meeting or may be mailed to the project manager at the address in 
ADDRESSES above. Following the scoping process, public outreach 
activities will continue throughout the duration of the work on the EIS 
as described in FTA Procedures below.
    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) ``scoping'' (Title 40 of 
the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1501.7) 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 consistent with the ultimate objectives of the NEPA 
implementing regulations--``to make the environmental impact statement 
process more useful to decision makers and the public; and to reduce 
paperwork and the accumulation of extraneous background data, in order 
to emphasize the need to focus on real environmental issues and 
alternatives * * * [by requiring] impact statements to be concise, 
clear, and to the point, and supported by evidence that agencies have 
made the necessary environmental analyses.'' Executive Order 11991, of 
May 24, 1977. 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.
    Since 1983, the Cotton Belt Corridor has been included in several 
transportation service plans and the North Central Texas Council of 
Governments (NCTCOG) Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP). In 1999 
and 2000 DART identified the North Crosstown Corridor which included 
the Cotton Belt Corridor as a key transportation corridor. In 2006, 
DART conducted a higher level of alternatives analysis and completed an 
existing conditions report of the North Crosstown Corridor, as part of 
its 2030 Transit System Plan. The Cotton Belt Corridor was identified 
as the preferred alignment for transit service between DFWIA and the 
DART Red Line. NCTCOG also included the Cotton Belt Corridor in the 
region's long range transportation plan, Mobility 2030: The 
Metropolitan Transportation Plan for the Dallas-Fort Worth Area--2009 
Amendment. In April 2010, the NCTCOG completed a Conceptual Engineering 
and Funding Study. This study provided background information on the 
existing environment, and compared various combinations of interlining, 
Red Line termini, minor alignment deviations, and station locations on 
the Cotton Belt Corridor. The feasibility study will be used to inform 
and guide the scoping process and EIS development for the proposed 
project.

II. Preliminary Statement of Purpose and Need for the Project

    The Cotton Belt Regional Rail Corridor's primary purpose is to 
provide passenger rail connections that will improve mobility, 
accessibility and system linkages to major employment, population and 
activity centers in the northern part of the DART Service Area. The 
implementation of passenger rail within the Cotton Belt Corridor would 
also provide an alternative to traffic congestion within the planning 
area. The connection of three LRT lines and two planned regional rail 
lines (Denton County Transportation Authority [DCTA] A-Train and Fort 
Worth Transportation Authority's [The T's] Southwest-to-Northeast 
[SW2NE] Project) makes regional connectivity a key component of the 
Cotton Belt Corridor. The Cotton Belt Corridor also offers 
opportunities to connect with the proposed BNSF regional rail corridor 
between Frisco and Irving, with a connection in downtown Carrollton.
    Regional demand for travel in the planning area is projected to 
increase along with congestion. Implementation would improve transit 
performance in the planning area by offering a new, more reliable 
service. By providing a new transportation option, peak period 
congestion would be reduced, providing improvements to regional air 
quality.

III. Project Location and Environmental Setting

    The proposed project would occur in the State of Texas, in portions 
of Tarrant, Dallas and Collin Counties, within the Cotton Belt 
Corridor. The project proposes a new regional rail line to provide 
express rail passenger service between DFWIA, through the cities of 
Grapevine, Coppell, Carrollton,

[[Page 39328]]

Addison, and Dallas to the existing DART Red Line LRT corridor in the 
cities of Plano and Richardson, Texas. Land use varies along the 
corridor and includes residential, commercial, government/
institutional, transportation, and industrial, as well as 
underdeveloped areas.
    The proposed project would lie within right-of-way purchased by 
DART in 1990 and designated as a preserved corridor for future 
passenger rail service. The corridor has been included in various DART 
and NCTCOG planning documents since 1983 as an alignment alternative 
for passenger rail. The right-of-way width varies throughout the 
corridor, but is generally 100 feet.
    Three freight companies operate within the corridor through 
agreements on tracks owned by DART: The Fort Worth and Western Railroad 
(FWWR), the Kansas City Southern (KCS) Railroad, and the Dallas Garland 
Northeastern (DGNO) short-line freight rail service. The Union Pacific 
(UP) Railroad has overhead rights but does not currently operate within 
the corridor. On January 22, 2010, the Surface Transportation Board 
(STB) approved freight abandonment in the north Dallas area from Knoll 
Trail in Dallas, Texas to Renner Junction in Richardson, Texas.

IV. Possible Alternatives

    Alternatives to be reviewed in the EIS include a No-Build 
Alternative and the Build Alternative, which may include design options 
and various station locations.
    The No Build Alternative assumes a 2030 condition of land use and 
demographics. It includes transit capital and service improvements that 
are programmed to be implemented by DART and other transit providers in 
the study area, as well as all other planned, programmed, and funded 
transportation projects for the planning year 2030.
    The Build Alternative would consist of ``express'' rail passenger 
service within the Cotton Belt Corridor using a passenger rail vehicle 
that complies with the requirements of the Federal Railroad 
Administration (FRA) safety standards (FRA-compliant vehicle). Express 
service is defined as a 20-minute peak and 60-minute off peak headway. 
A base alignment and station locations will be examined along with 
various options for the eastern terminus, stations, passing siding/
double-track locations, and possible horizontal and vertical alignment 
deviations at strategic locations.
    The base project would extend eastward from DFWIA within existing 
railroad right-of-way approximately 26 miles to DART's Red Line LRT 
corridor in the cities of Plano and Richardson. At its western 
terminus, the project would interface with DART's future Orange Line 
LRT service, which extends from DFWIA through Irving to downtown 
Dallas, and to the planned Fort Worth Transportation Authority's (The 
T's) SW2NE Regional Rail Corridor service from downtown Fort Worth to 
DFWIA. The T completed a Draft EIS (DEIS) for the SW2NE project and the 
Final EIS is expected to be complete in 2010. The SW2NE project is 
anticipated to receive environmental clearance for the section of the 
Cotton Belt from north of DFWIA to Fort Worth, and for a new rail 
corridor extending from the Cotton Belt south into DFWIA Terminal B.
    At the eastern terminus, the base corridor would interface with the 
Red Line where a new LRT station would be located at the intersection 
of the two corridors. Options for the Cotton Belt corridor eastern 
terminus include: Turning south to connect to the existing DART Red 
Line Bush Turnpike Station, Turning north to connect to the existing 
Red Line Downtown Plano Station (which would allow an option for 
service to continue further north into Plano or McKinney), or extending 
further east on the Cotton Belt to terminate near Shiloh Road in Plano. 
Additional deviations from the base alignment elsewhere along the 
corridor may also be considered.
    The base corridor includes a total of 54 roadway crossings (44 at-
grade; 10 grade-separated) including major roadway facilities such as 
State Highway (SH) 121, Interstate Highway (IH) 635, the President 
George Bush Turnpike, IH 35E, the Dallas North Tollway (DNT) and US 75 
(North Central Expressway). It is anticipated the Cotton Belt would 
interface with six other major passenger rail lines, including DART's 
Orange, Green and Red LRT lines, a proposed BNSF Corridor service that 
would interface with the Cotton Belt in downtown Carrollton, a proposed 
extension of the DCTA A-Train service to downtown Carrollton, and the 
planned SW2NE rail corridor connection at DFWIA.
    Several new rail stations would be provided, depending upon the 
build alternative selected. Station platforms would be approximately 
300 to 500 feet in length. Potential station locations include: DFWIA, 
North Lake, Downtown Carrollton (Green Line interface), Addison 
(existing Transit Center), Knoll Trail, Preston Road (State Highway 
289), Renner Village, UTD--Synergy Park, the Red Line Interface, and 
Shiloh Road.
    Additional alternatives that emerge during scoping that reasonably 
address the project's purpose and need and that have not been 
previously evaluated will be considered.

V. Possible Effects

    The purpose of this EIS process is to study, in a public setting, 
the potentially significant effects of the proposed project and its 
alternatives on the quality of the human environment. Areas of 
investigation for transit projects generally include, but are not 
limited to: Land use, development potential, land acquisition and 
displacements, environmental justice, historic resources, visual and 
aesthetic qualities, air quality, noise and vibration, energy use, 
safety and security, and ecosystems, including threatened and 
endangered species; investigation may reveal that the proposed project 
will not affect or affect substantially many of those areas. Measures 
to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any significant adverse impacts will be 
identified.

VI. FTA Procedures

    The regulations implementing NEPA, as well as provisions of 
SAFETEA-LU, call for public involvement in the NEPA process. Section 
6002 of SAFETEA-LU provides the following guidance: (1) Extend an 
invitation to other Federal and non-Federal agencies and Native 
American tribes that may have an interest in becoming a participating 
agency for the proposed project; (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 environmental documentation; 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. 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 the project manager, as 
identified in the ADDRESSES section above.
    A comprehensive public and agency involvement program (PAIP) has 
been developed and will be implemented as part of the DEIS. The PAIP 
will include: Agency and public scoping meetings; community-wide public 
information meetings; public hearings; informational briefings to 
stakeholder groups, elected

[[Page 39329]]

officials, and other local and regional officials; and information 
dissemination via a project Web site and newsletters. The PAIP will 
also involve advisory committees and other stakeholder groups to obtain 
input on issues, concerns, and advise on neighborhood and transit 
oriented development issues.
    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).
    After its approval, the DEIS will be available for public and 
agency review and comment. A public hearing will be held on the DEIS. 
The Final EIS (FEIS) will consider comments received during the DEIS 
public review and will identify the preferred alternative. Opportunity 
for additional public comment will be provided throughout all phases of 
project development.

VII. Paperwork Reduction

    The Paperwork Reduction Act seeks, in part, to minimize the cost to 
the taxpayer of the creation, collection, maintenance, use, 
dissemination, and disposition of information. Consistent with this 
goal and with principles of economy and efficiency in government, it is 
FTA policy to limit insofar as possible distribution of complete 
printed sets of environmental documents. Accordingly, unless a specific 
request for a complete printed set of environmental documents is 
received (preferably in advance of printing), FTA and its grantees will 
distribute only the executive summary of the environmental document 
together with a Compact Disc of the complete environmental document. A 
complete printed set of the environmental document will be available 
for review at DART's offices and elsewhere; an electronic copy of the 
complete environmental document will also be available on DART's Web 
page.

VIII. Other

    DART and the NCTCOG, which is the metropolitan planning 
organization for the Dallas-Fort Worth region, have entered into a 
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning the identification of 
potential funding sources to implement passenger rail service on the 
Cotton Belt Corridor. The purpose of the MOU is to outline the roles 
and responsibilities of each party. DART would be responsible for the 
preliminary engineering, environmental review process, planning, design 
and implementation activities. NCTCOG would be responsible for 
identification of funding sources and for developing a financial plan 
sufficient to design, build and implement passenger rail service on the 
Cotton Belt Corridor.
    Various funding alternatives are under consideration. The proposed 
project may be funded through a combination of local funds and funds 
apportioned to the NCTCOG from the FTA Urbanized Area Formula Program 
(UAFP) funding under 49 U.S.C 5307 (Section 15). This program (49 
U.S.C. 5307) makes Federal resources available to urbanized areas and 
to Governors for transit capital and operating assistance in urbanized 
areas and for transportation related planning. NCTCOG may consider 
requesting additional funding to help construct the project through 
various state and Federal programs. NCTCOG is also seeking innovative 
financing alternatives that may include private sector partners.
    The EIS will be prepared in accordance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.) of 1969 and the regulations implementing NEPA set forth in 40 CFR 
Parts 1500-1508 and 23 CFR Part 771, as well as provisions of the 
enacted Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity 
Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).

    Issued on: June 29, 2010.
Robert C. Patrick,
Federal Transit Administration, Region VI, Ft. Worth, TX.
[FR Doc. 2010-16599 Filed 7-7-10; 8:45 am]
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