[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 1 (Monday, January 3, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 207-210]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-33065]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Proposed 
Transit Improvements to the North Red and Purple Lines, Cook County, IL

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Department of 
Transportation.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), as the lead Federal 
agency, and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) intend to prepare a 
Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (Tier 1 EIS) for the North Red 
and Purple Line Modernization (RPM) Project in Cook County, Illinois. 
The CTA operates the rapid transit system in Cook County, Illinois. The 
proposed project, described more completely within, would bring the 
North Red and Purple lines up to a state of good repair from the track 
structure immediately north of Belmont Station in Chicago, Illinois to 
the Linden terminal in Wilmette, Illinois. The purpose of this Notice 
of Intent is to (1) alert interested parties regarding the intent to 
prepare the EIS, (2) to provide information on the nature of the 
proposed project and possible alternatives, and (3) to invite public 
participation in the EIS process.

DATES: Written comments on the scope of the EIS, including the 
project's purpose and need, the alternatives to be considered, the 
impacts to be evaluated, and the methodologies to be used in the 
evaluations should be sent to CTA on or before February 18, 2011. See 
ADDRESSES below for the address to which written public comments may be 
sent. Four public scoping meetings to accept comments on the scope of 
the EIS will be held on the following dates:
     Monday, January 24, 2011; 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; at St. 
Augustine College, 1345 West Argyle Street, Chicago, IL 60640.
     Tuesday, January 25, 2011; 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; at the 
Nicholas Senn High School, 5900 North Glenwood Avenue, Chicago, IL 
60660.
     Wednesday, January 26, 2011; 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; at the 
New Field Primary School, 1707 West Morse Avenue, Chicago, IL 60626.
     Thursday, January 27, 2011; 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; at the 
Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster Street, Evanston, IL 
60201.
    The buildings to be used for the scoping meetings are accessible to 
persons with disabilities. Any individual who requires special 
assistance or language translation, such as a sign language 
interpreter, to participate in the scoping meeting should contact Mr. 
Jeff Wilson, Government and Community Relations Officer, Chicago 
Transit Authority, at 312-681-2712 or jwilson@transitchicago.com, five 
days prior to the meeting.
    Scoping materials describing the project purpose and need and the 
alternatives proposed for analysis will be available at the meetings 
and on the CTA Web site http://www.transitchicago.com/rpmproject. Paper 
copies of the scoping materials may also be obtained from Mr. Jeff 
Wilson, Government and Community Relations Officer, Chicago Transit 
Authority, at 312-681-2712 or jwilson@transitchicago.com.
    An interagency scoping meeting will be held on Monday, January 24 
at 10:30 a.m. at CTA Headquarters, in Conference Room 2A, 567 W. Lake 
Street, Chicago, IL 60661. Representatives of Native American Tribal 
governments and Federal, State, regional, and local agencies that may 
have an interest in any aspect of the project will be invited to be 
participating or cooperating agencies, as appropriate.

ADDRESSES: Comments will be accepted at the public scoping meetings or 
they may be sent to Mr. Steve Hands, Strategic Planning and Policy, 
Chicago Transit Authority, P.O. Box 7602, Chicago, IL 60680-7602, or 
via e-mail at RPM@transitchicago.com.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Reginald Arkell, Community 
Planner, Federal Transit Administration, Region V, 200 West Adams 
Street, Suite 320, Chicago, IL 60606, phone 312-886-3704, e-mail 
reginald.arkell@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Scoping

    The FTA and CTA invite all interested individuals and 
organizations, public agencies, and Native American Tribes to comment 
on the scope of the Tier 1 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. The Tier 1 EIS will be a planning 
level EIS that will allow the CTA and FTA to use the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process as a tool to involve agencies 
and the public in the decision making process for the project as well 
as to capture any associated or cumulative impacts on the environment. 
This process will ensure that: the complete 9.5-mile RPM corridor is 
analyzed; the EIS is used to help refine and prioritize design 
concepts, and; related components of the project are grouped together 
for future analysis. After this Tier 1 EIS process is complete, 
component projects can each be evaluated more specifically with a 
second-tier EIS and/or other NEPA environmental documentation as 
needed. These ensuing NEPA documents can reference and summarize 
information from the Tier 1 EIS and concentrate on the issues specific 
to the subsequent actions (40 CFR 1502.20). Comments should address (1) 
the project's priorities and appropriate cost-effective alternatives 
and components, and (2) any significant environmental impacts relating 
to the alternatives.
    NEPA ``scoping'' (40 CFR 1501.7) has specific and fairly limited 
objectives, one of which is to identify the

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significant issues associated with alternatives that will be examined 
in detail in the Tier 1 EIS, 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. Transit projects may also generate 
environmental benefits; these should be highlighted as well--the impact 
statement process should draw attention to positive impacts, not just 
negative impacts.
    Once the scoping process is completed, a scoping report and 
annotated outline will be prepared and shared with interested agencies 
and the public. The report and outline serves at least three worthy 
purposes, including (1) documenting the results of the scoping process; 
(2) contributing to the transparency of the process; and (3) providing 
a clear roadmap for concise development of the environmental document.

Purpose and Need for the Project

    The purpose of the North Red and Purple Line Modernization project 
is to bring the existing crucial transit asset into a state of good 
repair, while reducing travel times, improving access to job markets, 
responding to shifts in travel demand, better utilizing existing 
transit infrastructure and providing access to persons with 
disabilities in the north lakefront and north suburbs of Chicago. This 
project would also support the area's economic development initiatives 
and current transit supportive development patterns.
    The need for the project is based on the following considerations: 
the North Red and Purple Line infrastructure is significantly past its 
useful life as most of it was constructed between 1900 and 1922; much 
of the infrastructure is dilapidated and continued degradation could 
increase the cost of maintenance and compromise service in the future; 
transit trips are delayed and unreliable due to antiquated 
infrastructure; the community relies on these facilities for all trip 
types including work access and reverse commutes; 15 of the 21 stations 
within the project area do not have access for persons with 
disabilities; the volume of passengers, over 128,000 trips on an 
average weekday representing over 19% of all weekday and 23% of all 
weekend CTA rail trips, could not be accommodated either on the 
currently congested road network or through bus transportation 
alternatives; and the project area population is growing, highly 
transit-reliant, and diverse.

Project Location and Environmental Setting

    The project area extends from the track structure immediately north 
of Belmont station to Linden station, which is approximately 9.5 miles 
and includes 21 stations and two rail yards, the Howard Yard and the 
Linden Yard. Currently, the Red and Purple Lines operate beside each 
other on 4 tracks for 5.7 miles from north of Belmont station to Howard 
station, of which 1.9 miles is located on steel elevated structure and 
3.8 miles on earthen embankment. The Purple Line operates alone on 2 
tracks for 3.8 miles from Howard station to Linden station on earthen 
embankment.
    The project area traverses dense urban single and multi family 
residential, commercial, and educational land uses and includes 
portions of Chicago's North Side, Evanston, and Wilmette, Illinois. The 
project area includes numerous parks and cemeteries, and crosses the 
North Shore Channel of the Chicago River.

Alternatives

    Several alternatives are proposed for analysis in the EIS. Public 
input received during scoping will help to select, reject and/or revise 
the following alternatives.
    No Action Alternative: The No Action Alternative would maintain the 
status quo. This alternative would include the absolute minimum repairs 
required to keep the Red and Purple lines functional. Travel patterns 
would remain the same. Travel times would likely continue to increase 
and service reliability would continue to degrade due to the need to 
safely operate on systems not considered in a state of good repair. 
Additional ADA access would not be provided. Minor repairs and upgrades 
would be made using current capital funding levels. The number of 
stations and station entrances would remain at 21 and 23, respectively. 
No stations would be renovated. The No Action Alternative is used as a 
basis for comparison for the other alternatives.
    Basic Rehabilitation Alternative: This alternative includes a 
strategic mix of repairs, rehabilitation, and replacement to bring the 
Evanston Branch (between Linden Terminal and Howard Station) and the 
North Red Line (between Belmont Station and Howard Station) into a 
minimal state of good repair. It would provide adequate service for the 
next 20 years. The stations, viaducts, and other structural elements 
would not be brought up to modern standards and would only meet minimal 
ADA requirements. Upgrades would be made to signals and communication 
systems. The number of stations and station entrances would remain at 
21 and 23, respectively.
    Evanston Branch: The Evanston Branch, between Linden Terminal and 
Howard Station, is the northern section of the study area and is 
approximately 3.8 miles long. This segment currently has 2 operating 
tracks with 8 stations (not including Howard). Only one station would 
be renovated to accommodate 8 car trains; two stations which are 
already accessible would receive minor repairs; the other six stations 
would be renovated to meet minimal ADA requirements. This alternative 
consists of upgrades to existing structures primarily within the 
existing CTA right-of-way and maintenance of the existing overall track 
alignment, structure, and station configurations.
    North Red Line: The North Red Line, between Belmont Station and 
Howard Station, is the southern section of the study area and is 
approximately 5.8 miles long. This segment currently has 4 operating 
tracks with 13 stations. Eight stations would be renovated to meet 
minimal ADA requirements; one station would be reconstructed; the 
remaining four stations are already accessible and would receive minor 
repairs. This alternative consists of upgrades to existing structures 
primarily within the existing CTA right-of-way and maintaining the 
existing overall track alignment, structure, and station 
configurations. Express service with no stops between Howard and 
Belmont would continue to be provided in both directions during peak 
periods.
    Basic Rehabilitation with Transfer Stations Alternative: This 
alternative includes all of the elements of the Basic Rehabilitation 
Alternative plus new transfer stations at Wilson and Loyola. The number 
of stations would remain at 21 and the total number of station 
entrances would increase to 25.
    Evanston Branch: Same as Basic Rehabilitation Alternative above in 
this segment for this alternative.
    North Red Line: This alternative includes all of the elements of 
the Basic Rehabilitation Alternative plus new transfer stations at 
Wilson and Loyola. The new transfer stations and 1 mile of associated 
structures would have a useful life of 60-80 years; the rest of the 
improvements would have a useful life

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of 20 years. Additional access to express service would be possible at 
the two new transfer stations. This alternative would allow for 
potential expanded hours of express service. Seven stations would be 
renovated to meet minimal ADA requirements; three stations would be 
reconstructed (two as transfer stations); the remaining three stations 
are already accessible and would receive minor repairs.
    Modernization 4-Track Alternative: This alternative would provide 
modern amenities at stations, extend the useful life of the system for 
the next 60-80 years, increase speed and reliability, and address 
safety and accessibility concerns. This alternative would require 
significant right-of-way acquisitions. The number of stations would 
decrease to 17 and the total number of station entrances would increase 
to 31.
    Evanston Branch: All stations would be reconstructed or renovated 
to meet modern standards for accessibility and safety including modern 
platform widths and clear lines of sight, in addition to being expanded 
to accommodate 8 car trains. Four stations would be reconstructed; the 
remaining two previously-modernized stations would receive minor 
repairs. Reconstruction of elevated structures and viaducts would bring 
them up to modern standards including clearances for cross streets 
underneath viaducts. Minimal acquisition would be required to 
straighten curves that currently slow service. The potential exists to 
consolidate stops while providing additional access points; examples of 
this could include: Adding a Washington entrance to Main station and 
removing South Blvd station; and adding a Gaffield entrance to Noyes 
station and a Church entrance to Davis station and removing Foster 
station.
    North Red Line: All stations would be reconstructed or renovated to 
meet modern standards for accessibility and safety including modern 
platform widths and clear lines of sight. Nine stations would be 
reconstructed (two as transfer stations); the remaining one previously-
modernized station would receive minor repairs. This alternative would 
provide express and local service in both directions by maintaining 4-
tracks and would replace the existing structures and embankment with 
modern concrete aerial structure. This alternative would allow for 
potential expanded hours of express service. Substantial additional 
right-of-way would be required to increase platform widths and provide 
clear lines of sight, as well as to straighten curves that slow 
service. The potential exists to consolidate stops, while providing 
additional access points; examples of this could include: Adding an 
Ainslie entrance to Argyle station and removing Lawrence station; 
adding a Glenlake entrance to Granville station and a Hollywood 
entrance to Bryn Mawr station and removing Thorndale station; and 
providing additional access to Howard station at Rogers Avenue and 
removing Jarvis station.
    Modernization 3-Track Alternative: This alternative would provide 
modern amenities at stations, extend the useful life of the system for 
the next 60-80 years, increase speed and reliability, and address 
safety and accessibility concerns. This alternative would remove one of 
the four tracks in the North Red Line corridor. The number of stations 
would decrease to 17 and the total number of station entrances would 
increase to 31. The number of stations to be reconstructed and repaired 
would be the same as the Modernization 4-Track Alternative above.
    Evanston Branch: Same as Modernization 4-Track Alternative above in 
this segment for this alternative.
    North Red Line: All stations would be reconstructed or renovated to 
meet modern standards for accessibility and safety including modern 
platform widths and clear lines of sight. This alternative would 
generally stay within the existing right-of-way, would eliminate one of 
the four existing tracks between Belmont and Howard to accommodate 
wider platforms, and would replace the existing structures and 
embankment with modern concrete aerial structure. Local service would 
be offered in both directions at all times and express service would be 
offered inbound in the morning and outbound in the evening; no reverse 
commute express service would be provided. Some right-of-way 
acquisition would be required to straighten curves that currently slow 
service. The potential exists to consolidate stops, while providing 
additional access points; possibilities would be the same as for the 
Modernization 4-Track Alternative above.
    Modernization 2-Track Underground Alternative: This alternative 
would provide modern amenities at stations, extend the useful life of 
the system for the next 60-80 years, increase speed and reliability, 
and address safety and accessibility concerns. This alternative would 
operate underground in a new 2-track alignment in place of the current 
4-track alignment in the North Red Line segment. The number of stations 
would decrease to 16 and the total number of station entrances would 
increase to 29.
    Evanston Branch: Same as Modernization 4-Track Alternative above in 
this segment for this alternative.
    North Red Line: This alternative would replace a significant 
portion of the existing 4-track elevated rail structure and embankment 
with a below-grade 2-track alignment. This alternative would provide a 
single more frequent local service in both directions between Linden 
and Belmont in this corridor; no express overlay service would be 
provided. The alternative alignment would begin north of Belmont and 
transition below ground, proceeding underneath the northbound Brown 
Line tracks. The alignment would continue northward generally following 
Sheffield/Sheridan to the intersection of Sheridan and Broadway, and 
then proceed north underneath Broadway until it transitions back to the 
elevated alignment just north of Loyola. Subway stations would be 
constructed at Addison, Irving Park, Wilson, Foster, Bryn Mawr, 
Glenlake, and Devon/Loyola. In total, seven modern stations would be 
constructed underground; one station would be reconstructed above 
ground; one previously-modernized station would receive minor repairs. 
The current 4-track earthen embankment between Loyola and Howard would 
be replaced with a 2-track modern concrete aerial structure. This 
alternative would require right-of-way acquisition outside of the 
existing Red Line alignment for station entrances and auxiliary 
structures. Curves would be straightened and new subway stops would be 
located to maximize train speed. The potential exists in the remaining 
elevated alignment to provide additional access to Howard station at 
Rogers Avenue and remove Jarvis station.

Possible Effects

    The purpose of this Tier 1 EIS process is to study, in a public 
setting, the effects of the proposed project and its alternatives on 
the quality of the human and natural environment. Areas of 
investigation for transit projects generally include, but are not 
limited to: Land use, development potential, land acquisition and 
displacements, historic resources, visual and aesthetic qualities, air 
quality, noise and vibration, energy use, safety and security, and 
ecosystems, including threatened and endangered species. Investigation 
may reveal that the proposed project will or will not substantially 
affect many of these areas. Measures will be identified to avoid, 
minimize, or mitigate any significant adverse impacts.

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FTA Procedures

    The regulations implementing NEPA, as well as provisions of the 
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A 
Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), calls for public involvement in the EIS 
process. Section 6002 of SAFETEA-LU requires that FTA and CTA 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 CTA 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 ADDRESSES.
    A comprehensive public involvement program and a Coordination Plan 
for public and interagency involvement will be developed for the 
project and posted on CTA's Web site, http://www.transitchicago.com/rpmproject. The public involvement program includes a full range of 
activities including maintaining the project Web page on the CTA Web 
site and outreach to local officials, community and civic groups, and 
the public. Specific activities or events for involvement will be 
detailed in the project's public participation plan.
    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 CTA's offices and elsewhere; an electronic copy of 
the complete environmental document will also be available on the CTA's 
Web page.
    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: December 22, 2010.
Marisol Sim[oacute]n,
Regional Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2010-33065 Filed 12-30-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-57-P