[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 200 (Tuesday, October 16, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 63413-63415]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-25414]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


Early Scoping Notification for the Alternatives Analysis of the 
Federal Way Transit Extension From SeaTac to Federal Way, WA

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration, DOT.

ACTION: Notification of early scoping meetings.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Central Puget 
Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) issue this early 
scoping notice to advise other agencies and the public that they intend 
to explore potential alternatives for improving public transit service 
between the cities of SeaTac and Federal Way in King County, Washington 
to improve connections to the regional transit system and major 
activity centers.
    The early scoping notice is intended to invite public comments on 
the scope of the alternatives analysis study, including the project's 
purpose and need, transportation problems to be addressed, the range of 
alternatives, the transportation and community impacts and benefits to 
be considered, the capital and operating costs, and other factors that 
the public and agencies believe should be considered in analyzing the 
alternatives. If preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) 
is warranted following the completion of the alternatives analysis,

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a notice of intent to prepare an EIS will be published.
    The early scoping process is intended to support the alternatives 
analysis and a future National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping 
process, as appropriate. In addition, it supports FTA planning 
requirements associated with the New Starts (``Section 5309'') funding 
program for certain kinds of major capital investments. While recent 
legislation may lead to changes in the New Starts process, Sound 
Transit will comply with relevant FTA requirements relating to planning 
and project development to help it analyze and screen alternatives in 
preparation for the NEPA process.
    Public meeting times and locations are described immediately below. 
Following that is a more detailed discussion of the project and the 
early scoping process.

DATES: Two public scoping meetings and one tribal/agency scoping 
meeting will be held at the following times and locations:
    1. November 8, 2012, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Highline Community 
College, Building 2, 2400 S. 240th Street, Des Moines, WA 98198.
    2. November 13, 2012, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Harry S. Truman High 
School, Gymnasium, 31455 28th Avenue, Federal Way, WA 98003.
    3. (Agency and Tribal Meeting), November 7, 2012, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 
p.m.
    The agency and tribal meeting will be conducted in a webinar 
format, accessible via the internet and by teleconference. Invitations 
to the on-line agency scoping meeting and the public scoping meetings 
will be sent to the appropriate federal, tribal, state, and local 
governmental units. Invitations will include details on how to 
participate in the on-line meeting.
    Supplemental information about the project is provided below. Also, 
Sound Transit will provide information on the alternatives analysis at 
the public meetings, along with opportunities for spoken or written 
comments. Additional information is available on Sound Transit's Web 
site at: http://www.soundtransit.org/FWextension. Written scoping 
comments are requested by November 19, 2012 and can be sent or emailed 
to the address below, submitted at the public meetings, or provided at 
the Web site address above.

ADDRESSES: Federal Way Transit Extension (c/o Kent Hale, Senior 
Environmental Planner), Sound Transit, 401 S. Jackson Street, Seattle, 
WA 98104-2826, or by email to FWTE@soundtransit.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: J. Steve Saxton, Transportation 
Program Specialist, FTA Region 10, email: fta.tro10mail@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Early Scoping. Early scoping is intended to generate public 
comments on the scope of a planning effort called ``alternatives 
analysis.'' The alternatives analysis lets an agency evaluate the 
costs, benefits, and impacts of a range of transportation alternatives 
designed to address mobility problems and other locally identified 
objectives in a defined transportation corridor, and helps the agency 
determine which particular investment strategy should receive more 
focused study and development. Early scoping for the Federal Way 
Transit Extension is being conducted in support of NEPA requirements 
and in accordance with the Council on Environmental Quality's and FTA's 
regulations and guidance for implementing NEPA (40 CFR 1501.2 through 8 
and 23 CFR 771.111), which encourage federal agencies to initiate NEPA 
early in their planning processes. Early scoping allows the scoping 
process to begin as soon as there is enough information to describe the 
proposal so that the public and relevant agencies can participate 
effectively. This is particularly useful in situations when a proposed 
action involves a broadly defined corridor with an array of alignment 
alternatives under consideration. This early scoping notice invites the 
public to comment on the scope of the planning alternatives analysis, 
including (a) the purpose and need for the project, (b) the range of 
alternatives to study, and (c) the environmental, transportation and 
community impacts and benefits to consider.
    The Federal Way Transit Extension and the Regional Transit System. 
The Federal Way Transit Extension corridor is approximately 7.6 miles 
long and extends from the future S. 200th Street Link light rail 
station in SeaTac to the Federal Way Transit Center. It parallels State 
Route 99 (SR 99) and Interstate 5 (I-5) and generally follows a 
topographic ridge between Puget Sound and the Green River Valley where 
the city limits of SeaTac, Des Moines, Kent, and Federal Way meet.
    Sound Move, the first phase of regional transit investments, was 
approved and funded by voters in 1996. Sound Transit is now completing 
its implementation. It includes light rail, commuter rail and regional 
express bus infrastructure and service, including the Central Link 
light rail system. In 2009, Sound Transit began light rail operations 
between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport, and an extension to the 
University of Washington is under construction and scheduled to open in 
2016.
    In 2004, Sound Transit began planning for the next phase of 
investment to follow Sound Move. This work included updating Sound 
Transit's Long-Range Plan and associated environmental review. After 
several years of Sound Transit system planning work, voters in 2008 
authorized funding to extend light rail south to Federal Way as part of 
the Sound Transit 2 (ST2) Plan. Link light rail south from Sea-Tac 
Airport to S. 200th Street is now under construction and is scheduled 
to open in 2016. The ST2 Plan also extends light rail from downtown 
Seattle east to Bellevue and Redmond, and from the University of 
Washington north to Northgate and Lynnwood.
    The Purpose of and Need for the Federal Way Transit Extension. The 
purposes of the project are to:
     Provide a reliable and efficient two-way, peak and off-
peak transit service of sufficient capacity to meet the projected 
demand between the communities and activity centers between the cities 
of SeaTac and Federal Way and the other urban centers in the Central 
Puget Sound area;
     Provide a mobility alternative to travel on congested 
roadways and improve connections to the Central Puget Sound regional 
multimodal transportation system;
     Support South King County communities and the region's 
adopted vision for land use, transportation and economic development, a 
vision that promotes the well-being of people and communities, ensures 
economic vitality and preserves a healthy environment;
     Support the long-range vision, goals, and objectives for 
transit service established by Sound Transit's Regional Transit Long-
Range Plan for high quality regional transit service between Seattle 
and Tacoma.
    The project is needed to:
     Meet the growing needs of the corridor and of the region's 
future residents and workers by increasing mobility, access, and 
transportation capacity connecting regional growth and activity centers 
in the study area and the rest of the region, as called for in the 
region's adopted plans, including the PSRC's VISION 2040 and 
Transportation 2040, as well as related county and city comprehensive 
plans;
     Address the problems of increasing and unreliable travel 
times for transit users in the study area, who are now

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dependent on the corridor's highly congested roadway and HOV systems;
     Provide an alternative to automobile trips on I-5 and SR 
99, the two primary highways serving the corridor, which provide 
unreliable travel times throughout the day;
     Help implement Sound Transit's Regional Transit Long-Range 
Plan and allow the future extension of HCT south to Tacoma;
     Expand and enhance transit options serving transit-
dependent residents and low-income and minority populations 
concentrated in the study area;
     Provide the transit infrastructure needed to support 
SeaTac and Federal Way, two designated regional growth centers that 
provide housing, employment, public services, and multimodal 
transportation connections;
     Help the state and region reduce transportation-related 
energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, consistent with goals 
established in RCW 47.01.440, and Chapter 70.235 RCW.
    Potential Alternatives. Previous planning work for the ST2 Plan 
examined conceptual light rail alignments between SeaTac and Federal 
Way along portions of SR 99 and I-5 to help develop cost estimates and 
establish ridership potential for transit improvements in the project 
corridor. General station locations near Highline Community College, 
Redondo/Star Lake park-and-ride lots, and the Federal Way Transit 
Center were identified. Sound Transit invites comments on the 
alternative transit alignments, and station locations to be studied, 
and on the proposed evaluation framework and criteria to be used to 
compare alternatives.
    As part of this alternatives analysis, Sound Transit will explore 
alternative alignment, station, and design configurations that could 
meet the project's purpose and need. Alternatives could include 
alternatives on SR 99 or I-5, or other alternatives that arise during 
the early scoping comment period. The alternatives will reflect a range 
of high- and low-cost capital improvements, including a ``no-build'' 
alternative which can serve as a ``baseline'' for measuring the merits 
of higher level investments. Sound Transit will identify measures for 
evaluating the relative merits of alternatives, and technical 
methodologies for generating the information used to support such 
measures. These measures typically include disciplines such as travel 
forecasting, capital and operations and maintenance costs, and 
corridor-level environmental and land use analyses.
    At the end of the alternatives analysis process, Sound Transit and 
the FTA anticipate narrowing the range of alternatives for further 
evaluation in a NEPA document. If the resulting range of alternatives 
involves the potential for significant environmental impacts requiring 
an environmental impact statement (EIS), FTA and Sound Transit will 
publish a Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS in the Federal Register, 
and invite public and agency comment on the scope of the EIS at that 
time.

    Issued on: October 10, 2012.
Richard Krochalis,
Regional Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2012-25414 Filed 10-15-12; 8:45 am]
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