[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 225 (Wednesday, November 21, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 69920-69921]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-28301]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Railroad Administration


Notice of Availability of a Final Tier 1 Environmental Impact 
Statement, for the Chicago, IL to St. Louis, MO High Speed Rail 
Corridor Program and Tier 2 Evaluation for the Springfield Rail 
Improvements Project

AGENCY: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), United States Department 
of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of availability of final environmental impact statement.

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SUMMARY: FRA is issuing this notice to advise the public that a Final 
Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) has been prepared for the 
Chicago, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri High Speed Rail Corridor 
Program. The Final EIS includes a Tier 1 corridor evaluation for the 
Chicago, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri high-speed rail corridor and a 
Tier 2 project-level evaluation for the portion of the high-speed rail 
corridor in Springfield, Illinois. FRA is the lead federal agency and 
the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is

[[Page 69921]]

the joint-lead state agency for the environmental review process.
    IDOT proposes to improve high speed passenger rail service between 
Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri, including the rail lines 
through Springfield, Illinois. The proposal includes the development of 
double track along the railroad corridor to improve high-speed 
passenger service reliability and safety, and to increase the number of 
trips between Chicago and St. Louis, as well as improvements to 
railroad crossings, signals, and stations.
    The Final EIS presents the Program's purpose and need, identifies 
all reasonable alternatives, describes the affected environment, 
analyzes the potential environmental impacts of all the reasonable 
alternatives and the No-Build Alternative, and identifies the Preferred 
Alternative and appropriate mitigation measures to minimize the 
potential environmental impacts.

DATES: FRA will issue a final decision on the proposal after the 30 day 
wait period which concludes on December 10, 2012, established by 
Environmental Protection Agency's publication of the notice of 
availability of the EIS in the Federal Register.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Final EIS have been sent to affected Federal, 
State, and local government agencies, stakeholders, and are also 
available for public review at IDOT, 505 North MacArthur Boulevard, 
Springfield, Illinois 62702 and online at FRA's Web site: http://www.fra.dot.gov and IDOT's Web site: http://www.idothsr.org.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrea E. Martin, Environmental 
Protection Specialist, Office of Railroad Policy and Development, 
Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., MS-20, Washington, DC 20590; email: 
andrea.martin@dot.gov; telephone: 202-493-6201 or Joseph E. Shacter, 
Director, Division of Public and Intermodal Transportation, Illinois 
Department of Transportation, 100 West Randolph Street, Suite 6-600, 
Chicago, Illinois 60601; email: Joseph.Shacter@Illinois.gov; telephone: 
312-793-2116.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The proposed Program would include the 
development of a double track and railroad crossings, signals, and 
stations along a preferred route of existing railroad corridors between 
Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri, to improve high-speed 
passenger service reliability and safety, and increase the number of 
trips. This Program of improvements would be in addition to those 
associated with FRA studies within the Chicago to St. Louis Corridor 
previously conducted from 2004 and 2011 and being implemented by IDOT.
    The Final EIS identifies and evaluates the environmental and 
transportation impacts for corridor capacity enhancements, including 
double track. The current Chicago to St. Louis Corridor operates 
predominantly on a single track that is shared by both traditional 
freight and Amtrak passenger rail service.
    A tiered environmental process was used to evaluate the proposed 
Program. A tiered environmental process is a phased environmental 
review used in the development of complex projects. Under this process, 
the Tier 1 EIS addresses broad, corridor issues and alternatives. Tier 
2 environmental documents address individual component projects of the 
Selected Alternative carried forward from the Tier 1 environmental 
process. Concurrently with this Tier 1 study of the full Chicago to St. 
Louis Corridor, IDOT and FRA conducted a Tier 2 evaluation for the 
portion of the High-Speed Rail Corridor in Springfield, IL.
    In June 2012, IDOT circulated the Draft Tier 1 EIS for a 45-day 
public and agency review and comment period pursuant to 40 CFR 
1502.9(b). The Draft Tier 1 EIS analyzed a No-Build Alternative and 
various Build Alternatives. IDOT and FRA convened public hearings in 
August 2012 in Chicago, Joliet, Springfield, Bloomington, and Alton, 
Illinois.
    The IDOT and FRA considered the entire record and compared the 
potential environmental impacts of the Tier 1 Build Alternatives, as 
well as impacts of the No-Build Alternative, in order to select the 
Preferred Alternative. The Preferred Alternative follows the existing 
Amtrak passenger corridor, except through Springfield and north of 
Joliet. Between Chicago and Joliet, the Preferred Alternative follows 
the Metra Rock Island District line from Joliet Union Station to the 
Norfolk Southern (NS) line near 40th Street in Chicago, the NS to 
Amtrak south of Union Station, and Amtrak owned tracks to Union 
Station. The Preferred Alternative allows for eight daily round trips 
at 110 miles per hour (mph) on two tracks.
    Other improvements also identified in the Final EIS include 
sidings, pedestrian grade separations at the stations, and grade 
separations along major roadways. Individual component projects along 
the corridor would be advanced and studied in greater detail as future 
Tier 2 project-level evaluations, as part of the tiered environmental 
review process.
    A Tier 2 project-level evaluation for improvements in Springfield 
is also included within the Final EIS. The Springfield Rail 
Improvements Project has been advanced concurrently as a component of 
the overall corridor program. The Tier 2 evaluation further considers 
the environmental and transportation impacts of alternatives following 
different rail routes through the City of Springfield, Illinois. The 
evaluation addresses safety, noise, and traffic delays that would 
result from increased volumes of both passenger and freight rail 
traffic on the three north-south rail corridors that pass through the 
City of Springfield. In Springfield (as identified in the Tier 2 
project-level evaluation), the Preferred Alternative is to shift Union 
Pacific (UP) freight as well as new and existing Amtrak passenger 
trains to an expanded NS corridor along Tenth Street.
    This Final EIS has been prepared in compliance with the provisions 
of Section 102(2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Council on Environmental Quality 
(CEQ) regulations implementing NEPA (40 CFR part 1500 et seq.), and 
FRA's Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (64 FR 28545; 
May 26, 1999).

    Issued in Washington, DC, on November 15, 2012.
Corey W. Hill,
Director, Office of Passenger and Freight Programs.
[FR Doc. 2012-28301 Filed 11-20-12; 8:45 am]
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