[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 18 (Thursday, January 27, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 4988-4991]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-1761]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for a Potomac 
Yard Metrorail Station in Alexandria, VA

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), 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, in cooperation with the City of Alexandria, the Washington 
Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and the National Park 
Service (NPS), is issuing this Notice of Intent (NOI) to advise the 
public that it proposes to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS) to assess the potential environmental impacts associated with the 
proposed construction and operation of the Potomac Yard Metrorail 
Station. The proposed project, described more completely within, would 
consist of the construction of a Metrorail infill station along the 
existing combined Blue and Yellow Lines between the Ronald Reagan 
Washington National Airport Station and the Braddock Road Station. 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, and to invite public 
participation in the EIS process.

DATES: 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 before March 15, 2011. See ADDRESSES below for the address to 
which written comments may be sent. Scoping meetings to accept comments 
on the scope of the EIS will be held on the following date:
     Agency Scoping Meeting: Thursday, February 10, 2011, Cora 
Kelly Recreation Center, 25 West Reed Avenue, Alexandria, VA at 3 p.m. 
Representatives from Federal, State, regional, Tribal, and local 
agencies that may have an interest in any aspect of the project will be 
invited to serve as either participating or cooperating agencies.
     Public Scoping Meetings: Thursday, February 10, 2011, Cora 
Kelly Recreation Center, 25 West Reed Avenue, Alexandria, VA at 4:30 
p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
    The buildings used for the scoping meetings are accessible to 
persons with disabilities. Spanish language materials and interpreters 
will be provided at the scoping meetings. Anyone who requires special 
assistance at a scoping meeting should contact Jim Ashe at WMATA at 
(202) 962-1745 or jashe@wmata.com at least 3 days prior to the meeting. 
A scoping packet is available on the project Web site at http://www.potomacyardmetro.com or by contacting Jim Ashe at the telephone 
number or e-mail address above. Copies

[[Page 4989]]

will also be available at the scoping meetings.
    If the City of Alexandria public schools are closed due to 
inclement weather on February 10, 2011, the public and agency scoping 
meetings will be held at the same times on the snow date of February 
15, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Comments will be accepted at the public scoping meetings or 
they may be sent on or before March 15, 2011 by e-mail to 
comments@potomacyardmetro.com or by regular mail to Potomac Yard 
Metrorail Station EIS, P.O. Box 25132, Alexandria, VA 22313.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Barlow, Community Planner, 
Federal Transit Administration, DC Metro Office, 1990 K Street, NW., 
Suite 510, Washington, DC 20006, Melissa.barlow@dot.gov or (202) 219-
3565; or Jim Ashe, Manager, Environmental Planning and Compliance 
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 600 5th Street, NW., 
Washington, DC 20001, jashe@wmata.com or (202) 962-1745.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Scoping

    FTA invites all interested individuals, organizations, public 
agencies, and Native American Tribes to comment on the scope of the 
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 address (1) feasible alternatives that may better 
achieve the project's purpose and need with fewer adverse impacts, and 
(2) any significant environmental impacts relating to the alternatives.
    NEPA ``scoping'' (Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 
Sec.  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[hellip] [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.

Purpose and Need for the Project

    The purpose of the project is to improve accessibility of the 
Potomac Yard area and provide more transportation choices for current 
and future residents, employees, and businesses by establishing a new 
access point to the regional Metrorail system. This additional access 
point is needed to address existing and future travel demand in the 
area resulting from the City of Alexandria's planned development of a 
major transit-oriented mixed-use activity center in the vicinity of the 
proposed station.
    The project area in Alexandria is located in the Northern Virginia 
portion of the Washington metropolitan region, which is expected to see 
approximately 30% population growth in the next 30 years. The project 
area is located adjacent to existing residential neighborhoods to the 
west and southeast and an approximately 600,000 square-foot retail 
center. The existing retail center is approved for redevelopment of 
2.25 million square feet of mixed-use development including office, 
retail, residential and hotel uses. Other properties in the Potomac 
Yard redevelopment area are approved for a total of approximately 4 
million square feet of development. This additional development will 
impact the existing roadway network with increased travel demand adding 
additional vehicle and transit trips. The transportation network in the 
project area is limited by the heavy rail to the east and limited east-
west connectivity west of Route 1.
    Currently the project area is not served by Metrorail or any other 
rapid transit services which provide regional connectivity. The project 
area is located between two Metrorail stations located 3.1-miles apart. 
This gap between the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Station 
and the Braddock Road Station is the longest for the portions of the 
Metrorail system that serve urban residential and commercial corridors. 
This area is currently served by local bus services that operate in 
mixed traffic along the congested US Route 1 corridor, yet they have 
numerous local stops resulting in slow transit travel speeds. This 
results in relatively long transit travel times to access the area. The 
Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway, which will provide bus priority 
lanes on nearby Route 1, will improve reliability of local transit 
services along the Route 1 corridor however, access to the Metrorail 
system is still needed to accommodate longer regional transit trips.
    The anticipated Potomac Yard Metrorail Station was included in 
WMATA's 1999 Transit Service Expansion Plan, the 2010 Financially 
Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan for the National Capital 
Region, and earlier WMATA and regional transportation plans, in 
addition to the City of Alexandria's 1992 and 2008 Transportation 
Master Plans and North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan. Establishing a new 
access point to the regional Metrorail system would provide more 
transit-friendly development patterns supported by improved access to 
transit as well as a safe and reliable alternative to automobile travel 
to and from the Potomac Yard area. Improved access to the regional 
system is also needed to accommodate a greater share of travel to and 
from the area on transit, potentially reducing reliance on single-
occupant vehicle use, decreasing automobile emissions, and improving 
regional air quality. The Washington Metropolitan area has been 
identified as a non-attainment area for ozone and particulate matter 
since the concentrations of these pollutants exceed acceptable levels 
as designated by the EPA.

Possible Alternatives

    The alternatives expected to be addressed in the EIS include:
    No Action Alternative: The No Action Alternative represents future 
conditions in the EIS analysis year of 2035 without the Potomac Yard 
Metrorail Station

[[Page 4990]]

Project. The No Action Alternative includes the existing transit and 
transportation system in the Washington, DC region plus planned 
improvements for which the need, commitment, financing, and public and 
political support have been identified, and which may reasonably be 
expected to be implemented. This alternative is included in the Draft 
EIS as a means of comparing and evaluating the impacts and benefits of 
the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station alternatives.
    Build Alternatives: Proposed build alternatives are being evaluated 
for the project. Potomac Yard is located in the City of Alexandria and 
the southern edge of Arlington, VA. The area is roughly bound by U.S. 
Route 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway) to the west, the George Washington 
Memorial Parkway on the east, Four Mile Run to the north, and E. Howell 
Avenue on the south.
    The study corridor where the project would be located is 
approximately 1.5 miles in length. Build alternatives will be analyzed 
that are either along or just to the west of the existing WMATA right-
of-way for the Blue and Yellow lines in this area. Build alternatives 
include:
     Metrorail Station Alternative A: Station Alternative A 
would be located along the existing mainline tracks between the George 
Washington Memorial Parkway and the CSX Railroad tracks and adjacent to 
the Potomac Greens Neighborhood.
     Metrorail Station Alternative B1: Station Alternative B1 
would be located along the existing mainline tracks between the George 
Washington Memorial Parkway and the CSX Railroad, just to the north of 
Alternative A.
     Metrorail Station Alternative B2: Station Alternative B2 
would be located along a short segment of realigned track between the 
George Washington Memorial Parkway and the CSX Railroad, to the north 
of Alternative A and to the south of Alternative B1.
     Metrorail Station Alternative B3: Station Alternative B3 
would be located along a short segment of realigned track between the 
George Washington Memorial Parkway and the CSX Railroad, just to the 
east of Alternative B2.
     Metrorail Station Alternative C1: Station Alternative C1 
would be located along realigned Metrorail track between the CSX 
Railroad and Route 1.
     Metrorail Station Alternative C2: Station Alternative C2 
would be located along realigned Metrorail track between the CSX 
Railroad and Route 1, just east of Alternative C1.
     Metrorail Station Alternative D1: Station Alternative D1 
would be located along realigned Metrorail tracks between the CSX 
Railroad and Route 1, just east of Alternative C2.
     Metrorail Station Alternative D2: Station Alternative D2 
would be located along realigned Metrorail tracks between the CSX 
Railroad and Route 1, just east of Alternative D1.

Possible Effects

    FTA will evaluate project-specific as well as indirect and 
cumulative effects to the existing physical, social, economic, and 
environmental setting in which the proposed station would be located. 
The permanent, long-term effects to the region could include, but are 
not limited to effects to traffic and transportation; land use and 
socioeconomics; visual character and aesthetics; noise and vibration; 
historical and archaeological resources; community impacts; natural 
resources; air quality and climate change; and visual impacts upon the 
setting of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, a unit of the 
national park system. Investigation may reveal that the proposed 
project will not affect or not substantially affect many of these 
areas. Measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any significant adverse 
impacts will be identified.

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 for transportation projects. In accordance with Section 6002 of 
SAFETEA-LU, FTA will: (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 (any 
interested party that does not receive an invitation to become a 
participating agency can notify any of the contact persons listed 
earlier in this NOI); (2) provide an opportunity for involvement by 
participating agencies and the public to help define the purpose and 
need for the 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. A Public Involvement Plan and an Agency Coordination 
Plan will be developed outlining public and agency involvement for the 
project. These will be available on the project Web site, http://www.potomacyardmetro.com, or through written request. Opportunities for 
comment will be provided throughout the EIS process, including public 
and agency meetings, the project Web site, a mailing address, and a 
phone information line. Comments received from any of these sources 
will be considered in the development of the final scope and content of 
the environmental documents.
    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 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.

Summary/Next Steps

    With the publication of this NOI, the scoping process for the 
project begins. After the publication of the Draft Scoping Document, a 
public comment period will begin, allowing the public to offer input on 
the scope of the EIS until March 15, 2011. Public comments will be 
received through those methods explained earlier in this NOI and will 
be incorporated into the Annotated Outline. This document will detail 
the scope of the EIS and the potential environmental effects that will 
be considered during the study period. After the completion of the 
Draft EIS, a public hearing and another public commenting period will 
allow for input on the EIS, and these comments will be incorporated 
into the Final EIS report before publication.

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 at the conclusion of scoping), FTA and its 
grantees will distribute only the executive summary of the 
environmental document together

[[Page 4991]]

with a Compact Disc of the complete environmental document. A complete 
printed set of the environmental document will be available for review 
at the grantee's offices and elsewhere; an electronic copy of the 
complete environmental document will also be available on the project 
Web site, http://www.potomacyardmetro.com.

Other

    The City of Alexandria is pursuing USDOT Discretionary Capital 
Grant funding for the project. 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). Related environmental procedures to be 
addressed during the NEPA process include, but are not limited to, 
Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice; Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act; and Section 4(f) of the DOT Act (49 
U.S.C. 303).

    Issued on: January 20, 2011.
Letitia A. Thompson,
Regional Administrator, Federal Transit Administration Region III, 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
[FR Doc. 2011-1761 Filed 1-26-11; 8:45 am]
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