Federal Register: May 24, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 100)
DOCID: FR Doc E6-7865
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Transit Administration
ACTION: Environmental statements; availability, etc.:
DOCUMENT ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a supplemental draft environmental impact statement.
Preparation of a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement on East-West Corridor Transit Improvements in Miami-Dade County, FL
DATES: Comment Due Date: Written comments on the scope of the alternatives and impacts to be considered should be sent to Ms. Maria C. Batista, Project Manager by June 30, 2006. See ADDRESSES below. Scoping Meetings: A MiamiDade Transit agency coordination meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 7, 2006 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Florida International University, Miami, Florida. Public scoping meetings will be held on Wednesday, June 7, 2006 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Florida International University, Miami, Florida, and on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Dominic Catholic Church, Miami, Florida. See ADDRESSES below.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) intend to prepare a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), for the proposed EastWest Transit Corridor Study in MiamiDade County, Florida, between Florida International University (FIU) and the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) at Miami International Airport (MIA). The SDEIS will evaluate at least three alternatives: a NoBuild Alternative; a Transportation System Management (TSM) Alternative; a Build Alternative; and any reasonable alternatives uncovered during the public scoping process. Scoping will be accomplished through meetings and correspondence with interested persons, organizations, the general public, Federal, State and local agencies. MDT will create a Coordination Plan to actively include public and participating agency involvement and comment during the entire NEPA process. The Coordination Plan will be found on the East West Corridor Web site at http://www.miamidade.gov/transit. The purpose of this Notice of Intent is to renotify interested parties of the intent to prepare the SDEIS and invite participation in the Study. An Advance Notification for the original EastWest Corridor Multimodal Project was issued in 1993. The study area being evaluated in this SDEIS traverses the western portion (i.e., FIU to MIC) of the entire EastWest Corridor between FIU and the Port of Miami that was studied in the EastWest Multimodal Corridor Major Investment Study/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (MIS/DEIS) in 1995 and the EastWest Multimodal Corridor Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in 1998. A Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA)/Minimum Operable Segment (MOS) emerged from this process and was the subject of a Record of Decision jointly issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and FTA in 1998. With approval of the People's Transportation Plan (PTP) by MiamiDade County voters in 2002, along with changes in growth and development along the western portion of the corridor, a redefinition of planned transit investments resulted in the locally proposed alternative. It is the intention of this action to improve mobility in the EastWest Corridor.
Miami-Dade County, FL; East-West Corridor transit improvements,
The current EastWest Transit Corridor SDEIS is reexamining improved transit service in the portion of the EastWest Corridor between FIU and the MIC at MIA. The MDT and FTA invite interested individuals, organizations, and Federal, State, and local agencies to participate in defining the purpose and need for, and refining the scope of the EastWest Transit Corridor SDEIS. Comments should focus on identifying any significant social, economic, or environmental issues related to the proposed alternatives. Specific suggestions related to alignment variations to be examined and issues to be addressed are welcome and will be considered in the final scope for the study. Scoping comments should focus on the issues for analysis. Comments may be made at the scoping meetings or in writing no later than June 30, 2006. See DATES and ADDRESSES above for meeting times and locations and the address for written comments. A scoping information packet is available from Ms. Maria C. Batista at the address given above or on the MDT internet Web page at http://www.miamidade.gov/transit. See ADDRESSES above.
II. Description of Study Area and Project Need
The study area is located in central MiamiDade County, Florida, beginning at the University Park Campus of FIU and ending just past MIA at the proposed MIC. The study area covers approximately a threemile by ninemile rectangle, generally bounded by NW 25th Street on the north; SW 8th Street on the south; the Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike (SR 821) on the west; and NW 37th Avenue to the east. It encompasses the area 1.5 miles north and south of the Dolphin Expressway (SR 836). The study area includes portions of the Cities of Miami, Sweetwater, and Doral, as well as areas within unincorporated MiamiDade County. This area is highly urbanized with the older and denser development to the east (i.e., downtown Miami and Miami Beach), and the more recent and less dense development in the suburbs to the west and south.
The proposed transit alternative would serve the airport, portions of the City of Miami along the Dolphin Expressway, the City of Sweetwater, the City of Doral and FIU. It would provide an additional means of transportation within and through the heavilycongested East West Corridor, thereby improving accessibility to major activity centers in the corridor and in the region generally. This would include improved mobility between residential suburbs to the south and west and the employment, cultural, and tourism centers to the east such as MIA, downtown Miami, the Port of Miami, and Miami Beach.
The purpose of and need for pursuing additional transit options to
address mobility and accessibility issues in the EastWest Corridor is based on the following key elements:
In a region where high capacity transportation facilities are primarily oriented northsouth, the EastWest Corridor is MiamiDade County's most important and heavily traveled eastwest route. Much of the growth in recent years has occurred in the western and southwestern portions of the region, including the western portion of the EastWest Corridor, which has seen rapid growth in population, households, and employment. The study area currently has more than 195,000 residents in 68,000 households and some 180,500 jobs. Official growth forecasts indicate that this trend will continue with population increasing by 44,000 (23 percent) by the year 2030 and jobs increasing by 60,000 (33 percent).
Several studies have clearly demonstrated the need for public transportation improvements to accommodate the EastWest Corridor's substantial population growth, increasing employment and development, and the need for a wider range of mobility options to meet rising east west travel demand within and through the corridor. Both the MiamiDade MPO's 2030 LongRange Transportation Plan (LRTP) and the People's Transportation Plan have designated the EastWest Corridor as a priority corridor for extension of Metrorail service. In November 2002, the voters of MiamiDade County approved the People's Transportation Plan and a onehalf percent sales tax increase to fund the plan. The PTP includes an extension of Metrorail service from the MIC to FIU. The extension of Metrorail service from the MIC to FIU also is designated as a Priority I project in the MPO's financially constrained 2030 LRTP, approved by the MPO Governing Board in December 2004.
The transportation alternatives proposed for consideration in this study area include:
NoBuild AlternativeThe NoBuild Alternative includes the
existing street, highway, and transit facilities and services and those
transit and highway improvements planned and programmed to be implemented by
2030. The NoBuild Alternative provides the baseline for establishing the environmental impacts of the proposed alternatives, and assumes the following projects will be completed:
Transportation System Management (TSM) AlternativeThe TSM
Alternative is defined as lower cost, operationallyoriented
improvements to address the transportation problems identified in the
corridor. It also provides a baseline against which the effectiveness
of the Build Alternative is evaluated and rated for federal New Starts funding, and would include the following:
Build AlternativeThe Build Alternative consists of an approximately 10.1 mile, twotrack, elevated, heavy rail extension of Metrorail from the MIC at MIA west to FIU, with proposed stations at the NW 57th Avenue/Blue Lagoon, NW 72nd Ave./Palmetto Expressway, NW 87th Avenue, NW 97th Avenue, NW 107th Avenue, and FIU. The LPA that was developed as a result of the initial environmental studies prepared in the 1990's continues to form the basis of the current SDEIS effort. The Build Alternative connects FIU with the MIC at MIA by following the Florida Turnpike northward from FIU and then the Dolphin Expressway eastward to the MIC. It would be developed as a direct extension of the existing Metrorail system. Several land use and development changes have occurred since the previous studies that require some minor refinement of the alignment and station location options. These refinements are being developed in consultation with state and local agencies and the surrounding community. The intent of these refinements to the alternative is to stay generally within the original corridor while looking to improvements that would enhance the ridership potential of the line, reduce costs where feasible, and further mitigate environmental impacts.
IV. Probable Effects/Potential Impacts for Analysis
The FTA and MDT will evaluate all significant environmental, social, and economic impacts of the alternatives analyzed in the SDEIS. Environmental and social impacts proposed for analysis include land use, zoning, and economic development; secondary development; land acquisition, displacements, and relocation of existing uses; historic resources; visual and aesthetic qualities; neighborhoods and communities; environmental justice; air quality; noise and vibration; hazardous materials; ecosystems; water resources; energy; safety and security; utilities; traffic and transportation; natural areas; threatened and endangered species; ground water and potentially contaminated sites; wetlands; and floodplain areas. The SDEIS will also evaluate secondary and cumulative impacts. Potential impacts will be assessed for the longterm operation of each alternative and the short term construction period. Measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any significant adverse impacts will be identified.
V. Public Involvement
A comprehensive public involvement program has been developed and a public and agency involvement Coordination Plan will be created. The program includes a project Web site (http://www.miamidade.gov/transit); outreach to local and county officials and community and civic groups; a public scoping process to define the issues of concern among all parties interested in the study; a public hearing on release of the supplemental draft environmental impact statement (SDEIS); establishment of walkin project offices in the corridor; and development and distribution of project newsletters.
VI. FTA Procedures
In accordance with FTA policy, all Federal laws, regulations, and
executive orders affecting project development, including but not
limited to the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality and
FTA implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 15001508, and 23 CFR Part 771),
the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, section 404 of the Clean Water Act,
Executive Order 12898 regarding environmental justice, the National
Historic Preservation Act, the Endangered Species Act, and section 4(f)
of the DOT Act, will be addressed to the maximum extent practicable
during the NEPA process. In addition, MDT may seek Sec. 5309 New
Starts funding for the project and will therefore be subject to the FTA
New Starts regulation (49 CFR part 611). This New Starts regulation
requires the submission of certain specified information to FTA to
support a MDT request to initiate preliminary engineering, which is
normally done in conjunction with the NEPA process. Pertinent New
Starts evaluation criteria will be included in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.
Issued On: May 17, 2006.
Yvette G. Taylor,
FTA Regional Administrator.
[FR Doc. E67865 Filed 52306; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 491057P
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Mr. Tony Dittmeier, Transportation Program Specialist, Federal Transit Administration, Atlanta Regional Office, (404) 5623512.