[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 225 (Wednesday, November 21, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Page 69920]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-28302]



[[Page 69920]]

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Railroad Administration


Notice of Availability for Public Review of the Draft Tier 1 
Environmental Impact Statement for the Chicago, IL, to Omaha, NE, 
Regional Passenger Rail System Study

AGENCY: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), U.S. Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of availability of draft environmental impact statement.

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SUMMARY: FRA is issuing this Notice to advise the public that a Draft 
Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 EIS) has been prepared 
for the Chicago to Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System Planning Study 
(Study). The Tier 1 EIS was prepared pursuant to the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA); FRA's Procedures for 
Considering Environmental Impacts (Environmental Procedures); and 
guidelines published by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) on 
implementing NEPA. The Study includes both a Tier 1 EIS and a Service 
Development Plan. FRA is the lead federal agency and the Iowa 
Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) is the joint-lead state agency 
for the environmental review process. For passenger rail projects, this 
Tier 1 EIS focuses on broad corridor and service level issues, while 
subsequent Tier 2 analyses will focus on the details of a specific 
project or action.
    Iowa DOT proposes to establish high-speed passenger rail service 
between Chicago, Illinois, through Iowa, to Omaha, Nebraska. The 
proposed project would provide an alternative to automobile, bus, and 
air travel by decreasing travel times, increasing frequency of service, 
improving reliability (particularly in inclement weather), providing an 
efficient transportation option, and providing amenities to improve 
passenger ride quality and comfort. The project would also promote 
environmental benefits, including reduced air pollutant emissions, 
improved land use options, and fewer adverse impacts to the surrounding 
habitat and water resources.
    The Tier 1 EIS presents the proposed project's purpose and need, 
identifies reasonable alternatives, describes the affected environment, 
and analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the alternatives 
considered, including the no-build alternative.

DATES: Written comments on the Draft Tier 1 EIS should be provided 
within the 45-day comment period to Iowa DOT on or before Wednesday, 
December 26, 2012. Public hearings are scheduled to occur in early 
December 2012 in Chicago, Illinois, and in Des Moines and Council 
Bluffs, Iowa. For further details, please reference the Study's Web 
site at: www.iowadot.gov/chicagotoomaha/.

ADDRESSES: Comments or additional information on the Tier 1 EIS can be 
submitted in multiple ways: Mailed directly to Amanda Martin, Freight 
and Passenger Rail Policy Coordinator, Iowa Department of 
Transportation, 800 Lincoln Way, Ames, Iowa 50010; submitted 
electronically through the Chicago to Omaha Regional Passenger Rail 
System Planning Study Web site at www.iowadot.gov/chicagotoomaha; 
submitted electronically to email@chicagotoomaha.com with ``Draft EIS'' 
in the Subject line; recorded at the Study's toll-free information line 
at 800-488-7119; or provided orally or in writing at the in-person open 
house public hearing.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andr[eacute]a Martin, Environmental 
Protection Specialist, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue Southeast, (Mail Stop 20), Washington, DC 20590, telephone (202) 
493-6201; or Amanda Martin, Freight and Passenger Rail Policy 
Coordinator, Office of Rail Transportation, Iowa Department of 
Transportation, 800 Lincoln Way, Ames, Iowa 50010, telephone (515) 239-
1653.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Chicago to Omaha regional intercity 
passenger rail corridor extends from Chicago Union Station, in downtown 
Chicago, Illinois on the east to a terminal in Omaha, Nebraska on the 
west. In Illinois, the Study area extends west from Chicago Union 
Station (the hub for the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative) for 
approximately 200 miles to the Mississippi River near Moline, Illinois, 
and continues west for approximately 300 miles across the entire state 
of Iowa to the Missouri River, a distance of approximately 500 miles. 
The Study area terminates in Omaha, which is located at the Missouri 
River, the eastern border of the state of Nebraska.
    The Chicago to Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System would provide a 
competitive passenger rail transportation option between Chicago and 
Omaha to help meet current and future demand for travel in the Study 
area. The need stems from travel demand and increasing congestion, 
resulting from population growth and changing demographics along the 
corridor from Chicago, Illinois to Omaha, Nebraska, as well as the lack 
of competitive and attractive travel alternatives to highway and air 
transportation. The proposed improvements of the preferred alternative 
meet the purpose and need criteria by: decreasing travel times; 
increasing frequency of service; improving service reliability; 
providing safe and efficient service; providing amenities to improve 
passenger ride quality and comfort; and promoting environmental 
benefits (reduced air pollutant emissions, improved land use options, 
and fewer adverse impacts to the surrounding habitat and water 
resources).
    The Tier 1 EIS is available for review online at FRA's Web site 
www.fra.dot.gov and Iowa DOT's Web site at www.iowadot.gov/chicagotoomaha. The document is also available at 113 libraries located 
along the corridor in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. For a full list of 
these viewing locations visit the Chicago to Omaha Regional Passenger 
Rail System Planning Study Web site at www.iowadot.gov/chicagotoomaha.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on November 15, 2012.
Corey W. Hill,
Director, Office of Passenger and Freight Programs .
[FR Doc. 2012-28302 Filed 11-20-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-06-P