[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 67 (Thursday, April 7, 2011)]
[Pages 19519-19522]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-8227]



Federal Transit Administration

Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the 
Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion Project in the City and 
County of San Francisco, CA

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement 


SUMMARY: The FTA, as the lead Federal agency, and the San Francisco Bay 
Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) are planning to 
prepare an EIS for the proposed expansion and improvements to the 
Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal at the Port of San Francisco 
Ferry Building. The proposed project would serve commuters, visitors, 
and recreational users desiring an alternative way to cross San 
Francisco Bay, and reach nearby employment, entertainment, and 
recreational destinations in San Francisco. The project expands the 
number of ferry gates and improves ferry patron circulation, boarding, 
and wayfinding in and around the Ferry Building. In addition, the 
project enhances emergency response capabilities to evacuate people 
from San Francisco and/or mobilize first responders to San Francisco 
via ferries if a catastrophic event occurs. The EIS will be prepared in 
accordance with Section 102(2)C of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969 (NEPA) and pursuant to the Council on the Environmental 

[[Page 19520]]

regulations (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] parts 1500-08) as 
well as provisions of the recently enacted Safe, Accountable, Flexible 
Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). 
The purpose of this notice is to alert interested parties regarding the 
intent to prepare an EIS; provide information on the proposed transit 
project; invite participation in the EIS process, including comments on 
the scope of the EIS proposed in this notice; and announce when the 
public scoping meeting will be conducted.

DATES: Written comments on the scope of the EIS should be sent to Mike 
Gougherty, WETA Project Manager, by May 16, 2011. A public scoping 
meeting to accept comments on the scope of the EIS will be held on the 
following date:
     April 26, 2011, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at Pier 1, 
Bayside Conference Room, San Francisco, California.
    An interagency scoping meeting for agencies with interest in the 
project will be held on the following date:
     April 26, 2011 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pier 1, 
Bayside Conference Room, San Francisco, California.
    The meeting will be accessible to persons with disabilities. If 
special translation or signing services or other special accommodations 
are needed, please contact Mike Gougherty at (415) 364-3189 at least 48 
hours before the meeting. A scoping information packet is available on 
the WETA Web site at http://www.watertransit.org or by calling Mike 
Gougherty at (415) 364-3189. Copies will also be available at the 
scoping meeting.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the scope of the EIS will be accepted at the 
public scoping meeting, or written comments should be sent to Mike 
Gougherty, WETA Project Manager, San Francisco Bay Water Emergency 
Transportation Authority, Pier 9, Suite 111, The Embarcadero, San 
Francisco, CA, 94111.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Debra Jones, Environmental Protection 
Specialist, FTA, San Francisco Regional Office at (415) 744-3133.



    The FTA and WETA invite all interested individuals and 
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 need and purposes 
with fewer adverse impacts, and (2) any significant environmental 
impacts relating to the alternatives.
    NEPA ``scoping'' (Title 40 of the 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[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.
    Once the scope of the environmental study, including significant 
environmental issues to be addressed, is settled, a scoping report will 
be prepared that: (1) Documents the results of the scoping process; (2) 
contributes to the transparency of the process; and (3) provides a 
clear roadmap for concise development of the environmental document.

Purpose and Need for the Project

    The purpose of the Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal Expansion 
Project is to support and expand ferry service on San Francisco Bay, as 
established by WETA in its Implementation and Operations Plan (IOP), 
and in accordance with city and regional policies to encourage transit 
use. Furthermore, the project will address deficiencies in the 
transportation network that impede ferry operation and ferry patron 
access and circulation at the Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal. 
The project objectives include:
     Accommodate WETA's projected increase in ferry ridership 
and related ferry arrivals and departures from the Downtown San 
Francisco Ferry Terminal;
     Provide a viable alternative mode of transportation that 
accommodates projected increases in transbay trips, and helps 
alleviates congestion over the Bay Bridge and through the Bay Area 
Rapid Transit (BART) Transbay Tube;
     Address WETA's and the Port of San Francisco's (Port) 
emergency response needs;
     Establish a circulation plan and improved signage that 
provides clear pedestrian routes for ferry to bus and ferry to rail 
transfers, as well as safe routes for bikes, emergency vehicles, and 
delivery trucks to enter, park and exit the area;
     Provide necessary landside improvements, such as 
designated weather-protected areas for waiting and queuing, ticket 
machines and fare collection equipment, improved lighting, and improved 
boarding and arrival/departure information to serve ferry patrons and 
to enhance the Ferry Building as the central point of embarkation for 
ferries on San Francisco Bay; and
     Enhance the area's public access and open space with 
design features that create attractive, safe daytime and nighttime 
public spaces for both ferry patrons and other users of the Ferry 
Building area;
     Recognize the Port's land use planning and development 
proposals in and around the Ferry Building so as not to preclude, 
conflict with, or inhibit proposed development plans in the project 
    WETA recognizes and supports the Port of San Francisco's land use 
planning and development proposals in and around the Ferry Building, 
including the historic renovation of the Agricultural Building and 
enhancements to the Ferry Plaza area. These Port initiatives are being 
planned and funded independent of the WETA project and, as a result, 
are not included as project elements. WETA will stage construction and 
manage and operate ferry services so they do not preclude, conflict 
with, or inhibit the Port's proposed development plans in the project 

Project Location and Environmental Setting

    The project is located in the northeastern section of San 
Francisco, California, at the San Francisco Ferry Building, situated at 
the foot of Market Street. The study area encompasses Port of San 
Francisco property between Pier 1 on the north and Pier 14 on the 
south, and includes the Ferry Building, ferry gates, and the Ferry 

[[Page 19521]]

Possible Alternatives

    A study of potential ferry terminal improvements at the San 
Francisco Ferry Building was completed by the Port in 1994. The 
planning process, summarized in the Downtown San Francisco Ferry 
Terminal Project, Concept Design--Stage 1 Final Report, addressed 
deficiencies in the circulation of pedestrians across the Embarcadero 
and through the Ferry Building; constraints imposed by previous design 
modifications of the Ferry Building that obscured wayfinding to the 
ferry gates; limited opportunities for public gathering and access to 
the Bay; and restricted commercial development within the building. A 
variety of design, configuration, and circulation improvements were 
considered. The Port selected those improvements that best met its 
long-term public service and facility objectives, and completed those 
projects, including construction of Gates B and E and the south basin 
breakwater at Pier 14, as Phase 1 of the Downtown San Francisco Ferry 
Terminal Project in 2003. This project builds on the previous 
improvements, described under the Action Alternative below. In addition 
to the Action Alternative, WETA considers the effects of doing nothing, 
identified as the No Action Alternative. Both the Action and No Action 
Alternatives are being considered in the EIS, as described below.
    No Action Alternative. Six ferry routes currently serve the 
Downtown San Francisco Ferry Terminal. Today, the Downtown San 
Francisco Ferry Terminal has approximately 130 ferry arrivals and 
departures daily, serving more than 10,000 daily ferry patrons.
    The existing Ferry Terminal gate configuration serves current ferry 
operations and provides the circulation areas to access these gates. 
The No Action Alternative maintains the existing ferry services, gate 
configuration, and circulation areas, including the function, uses, and 
design of the Ferry Building, which also serves as an important public 
space in San Francisco. No new gates or additional boarding capacity to 
accommodate new ferry services would occur as part of the No Action 
Alternative. Similarly, circulation and boarding improvements to 
respond to emergency planning requirements would not be implemented.
    The No Action Alternative retains vehicle circulation and drop-off 
areas near the Ferry Building as well as the current circulation 
patterns for ferry patrons to access the ferry boarding areas. 
Pedestrian pathways to boarding locations for San Francisco Municipal 
Railway (Muni) bus and streetcar lines and the Amtrak bus would remain 
unchanged. Programmed Transbay bus and rail transit improvements 
identified in the Regional Transportation Plan would be implemented as 
part of the No Action Alternative. This alternative serves as the 
baseline against which the environmental effects of the other 
alternatives are measured.
    Action Alternative. The Action Alternative incorporates 
modifications and improvements to the Ferry Terminal gates and ferry 
boarding areas to accommodate future WETA service and increased ferry 
patronage. Current estimates for 2025 projected daily ridership at the 
Ferry Terminal are approximately 35,000 passengers. The ridership 
projections account for existing service, plus new ferry services from 
downtown San Francisco to Berkeley, Treasure Island, Hercules, 
Richmond, Redwood City, Martinez, and Antioch to be initiated between 
2014 and 2030. Service frequencies during the day and evenings would 
reflect the travel demand for commute and non-commute periods. Existing 
services operated by others (i.e., Sausalito, Larkspur, and Tiburon), 
and existing services operated by WETA (i.e., Vallejo, Alameda/Oakland, 
and Alameda Harbor Bay) would remain, but the access and boarding 
environments for these services would be improved by the project.
    In addition, landside improvements to allow staging and circulation 
for possible emergency evacuation at the Ferry Building are included in 
the Action Alternative. The modifications and improvements are the 
responsibility of WETA in cooperation with the Port of San Francisco, 
with funding coming from Regional Measure 2, State Proposition 1B, and 
    The WETA-sponsored improvements represent sequential construction 
phases (Phase 2 and Phase 3). As noted previously, the Phase 2 and 
Phase 3 improvements build on those elements already completed by the 
Port in 2003 during Phase 1. Phase 2, which is expected to be completed 
by 2017, will include:
     Demolition and removal of Pier [frac12] and Pier 2;
     Construction of Gate A in the north basin, and Gates F and 
G in the south basin;
     Installation of boarding area amenities such as weather-
protected areas for queuing, ticket machines and fare collection 
equipment, improved lighting, and ferry boarding and arrival/departure 
information signs;
     Widening of ferry access pathways along existing 
pedestrian promenades, and separation of ferry patron queuing from 
other pedestrian and vehicular movements where possible;
     Improved wayfinding signage in the vicinity of the Ferry 
Building, which will indicate ferry boarding areas and transit 
connections; and
     Filling in the lagoon to prepare for and accommodate 
staging and circulation of evacuees following a catastrophic event.
    As new ferry gates are constructed, existing ferry services would 
relocate to new gates. Pier demolition and construction activities 
would be staged and sequenced to allow continuity of existing ferry 
services during construction. Demolition of Pier \1/2\ would precede 
construction of Gate A. Similarly, demolition of Pier 2 would precede 
construction of Gate F. Gate G, which is designated for ferry services 
not expected to operate until 2020 or later, would serve as a vessel 
layover location, temporary storage area, and emergency boarding 
location in the interim. WETA's capital improvement plan synchronizes 
the purchase or leasing of vessels to meet future service and emergency 
response requirements.
    Phase 3 is contingent on the implementation of the Treasure Island 
Redevelopment Plan. At full build-out, expected to occur sometime 
between 2020 and 2030, new commercial, recreational, and residential 
facilities on Treasure Island would require additional ferry capacity 
to serve substantial numbers of visitors and residents. The additional 
capacity would be provided by larger, bow-loading vessels purchased by 
the Treasure Island developer, and operated by WETA. The bow-loading 
vessels would necessitate the redesign of Gate E to accommodate the 
larger ferries.

Possible Effects

    The purpose of this EIS process is to study, in a public setting, 
the potentially significant effects of the proposed project on the 
quality of the human environment. Primary areas of investigation for 
this project include, but are not limited to: land use, development 
potential, displacements, historic resources, visual and aesthetic 
qualities, air quality, noise and vibration, dredging and bay fill 
requirements, hazardous materials resulting from demolition and 
construction activities, traffic circulation and transportation 
linkages, pedestrian circulation, safety, security, and emergency 
response, bay habitat, and cumulative impacts. The environmental 
analysis may reveal that

[[Page 19522]]

the proposed project will not affect, or affect substantially, many of 
those areas. However, if any adverse impacts are identified, measures 
to avoid, minimize, or mitigate those adverse impacts will be proposed.

FTA Procedures

    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. 
Section 6002 of SAFETEA-LU (23 U.S.C. 139) requires that FTA and WETA 
do the following: (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;'' (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 EIS; 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. It is possible that FTA and WETA 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 
    A comprehensive public involvement program for public and 
interagency involvement will be developed for the project and posted on 
WETA's Web site: http://www.watertransit.org. The public involvement 
program includes a full range of activities including maintaining the 
project Web page on the WETA Web site and outreach to local officials, 
community and civic groups, and the public.

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 the grantee's offices and elsewhere; an electronic copy 
of the complete environmental document will also be available on the 
grantee's Web site.


    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).

    Issued on: March 31, 2011.
Leslie T. Rogers,
Regional Administrator, FTA, Region 9.
[FR Doc. 2011-8227 Filed 4-6-11; 8:45 am]