[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 170 (Thursday, September 2, 1999)]
[Pages 48228-48230]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-22926]



Federal Transit Administration

Major Investment Study/Draft Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Metro-North Penn Station Access Study

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare a Major Investment Study/Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement (MIS/DEIS).


SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Metro-North 
Commuter Railroad Company (Metro-North) intend to prepare a Major

[[Page 48229]]

Investment Study/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (MIS/DEIS) to 
study transportation access improvements from the Metro-North service 
territory on the New Haven, Harlem, and Hudson Lines (north of 
Manhattan) to Pennsylvania Station, New York (Penn Station) on the West 
Side of Manhattan in the City of New York. Current Metro-North service 
terminates at Grand Central Terminal (GCT) on the East Side of 
Manhattan, necessitating as many as two transfers on additional modes 
to reach destinations on the West Side. The MIS/DEIS is being prepared 
in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(NEPA), as amended, and implemented by the Council on Environmental 
Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508), the FTA/Federal 
Highway Administration's Environmental Impact regulations (23 CFR Part 
771), and the FTA/FHWA Statewide Planning/Metropolitan Planning 
regulations (23 CFR Part 450). This study will also comply with the 
requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as 
amended, Section 4(f) of the 1966 U.S. Department of Transportation 
Act, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the Executive Order 12898 on 
Environmental Justice, and other applicable rules, regulations, and 
guidance documents.
    The Penn Station Access MIS/DEIS will examine alternative 
strategies for improving access from the Metro-North service territory 
to the West Side of Manhattan (Penn Station). New York-bound, Metro-
North trains currently terminate at GCT on Manhattan's East Side. The 
study will also evaluate the possibility of station stops in Co-Op City 
in the Bronx and on the West Side of Manhattan, and a new rail yard. 
Consideration will also be given to other modes.
    The Penn Station Access MIS/DEIS will develop alternatives for 
study that could lead to a project which would (1) Be a feasible, cost-
effective, and beneficial transportation improvement that would enhance 
connections to other regional rail services; (2) increase Metro-North 
ridership and provide service flexibility for its customers; and (3) 
support the region's economic vitality and quality of life. The MIS/
DEIS will evaluate a No-Build Alternative, a Transportation System 
Management (TSM) Alternative, and Build Alternatives. Build 
alternatives will take into consideration the use of Metro-North's 
Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven Lines to provide access to Penn Station, 
potential new stations on the West Side of Manhattan (somewhere from 
approximately 57th Street to 86th Street) and at Co-Op City in the 
Bronx, as well as other reasonable alternatives suggested through the 
scoping process. The type, location and need for ancillary facilities 
(such as new yards or shops) will also be considered for each 

DATES: Comment Due Date: Written comments on the scope of the MIS/DEIS 
should be sent to Metro-North by October 22, 1999. See ADDRESSES below.
    Scoping Meeting: Public scoping meetings for the Penn Station 
Access MIS/DEIS will be held on:

September 28, 1999

6 pm-9 pm (sign-in begins at 5:30), MTA Headquarters, 5th Floor 
Board Room, 347 Madison Avenue (btwn 44th St. & 45th St.), New York, 
New York

September 30, 1999

7 pm-10 pm (sign-in begins at 6:30), Einstein Community Center; 135 
Einstein Loop, Co-Op City, New York

October 5, 1999

7 pm-10 pm (sign-in begins at 6:30), The Warner Library, (corner of 
Broadway St. and Wildey St.) Tarrytown, New York

October 7, 1999

7 pm-10 pm (sign-in begins at 6:30), Stamford Government Center, 888 
Washington Blvd., 2nd Floor (Senior Center), Stamford, Connecticut

People with special needs should contact Todd DiScala at Metro-North at 
the address below or by calling the study hotline at 1-877-MNR-PENN. 
The buildings are accessible to people with disabilities. A sign 
language interpreter will be available for the hearing impaired.
    Scoping material will be available at the meetings and may also be 
obtained in advance of the meetings by contacting Todd DiScala at the 
address below or by calling the study hotline above. Oral and written 
comments may be given at the scoping meetings; a stenographer will 
record all comments.

ADDRESSES: Written comments on the project scope should be sent to Todd 
DiScala, Project Manager, Metro-North Railroad, 420 Lexington Avenue, 
9th Floor, New York, New York 10017. The scoping meetings will be held 
at the locations identified above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you wish to be placed on the 
mailing list to receive further information as the study develops, 
contact Todd DiScala at the above address or call the study hotline at 
1-877-MNR-PENN. For further information you may also contact: Ms. Nancy 
Danzig, Community Planner, Federal Transit Administration, Region II, 
One Bowling Green, Room 429, New York, New York, 10004-1415; phone: 


I. Scoping

    The FTA and Metro-North invite all interested individuals and 
organizations, and federal, state, and local agencies to provide 
comments on the scope of the study. During the scoping process, 
comments should focus on identifying specific social, economic, or 
environmental issues to be evaluated and suggesting alternatives, which 
may be less costly or have less environmental impacts, while achieving 
the transportation objectives of enhancing regional connectivity, 
providing service flexibility, and supporting the region's economic 
vitality and quality of life. Comments should focus on the issues and 
alternatives for analysis and not on a preference for a particular 
alternative. Scoping materials will be available at the meetings or in 
advance of the meetings by contacting Todd DiScala at Metro-North, as 
indicated above.
    The Penn Station Access Study will be closely coordinated with 
major regional initiatives and studies that are related to this effort. 
These include:

     Hudson Line Extension MIS/DEIS, a study by Metro-North 
to examine extending Hudson Line service further north in Dutchess 
County from its current terminus in Poughkeepsie, New York;
     Access to the Region's Core Study (ARC), a joint study 
by New Jersey Transit, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 
and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The ARC study 
continues to study access to Midtown Manhattan from points east and 
     East Side Access Study, a study by MTA Long Island Rail 
Road of access to the East Side of Manhattan via Grand Central 
     Lower Manhattan Access Alternatives Study, a study by 
the MTA to determine feasible alternatives for improving access to 
Lower Manhattan;
     Manhattan East Side Alternatives, a study by MTA New 
York City Transit to examine alternatives for improving access in 
the north-south corridor on the East Side of Manhattan;
     Amtrak High Speed Rail, projects to (1) improve service 
in the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston and (2) to 
provide improved service in the Empire Corridor.
     Amtrak Service to the Farley Post Office Building, a 
project which will move Amtrak's New York City passenger operations 
to the Farley Post Office Building; and
     Conrail/CSX/Norfolk Southern Merger, a change in the 
ownership of the freight network, dividing the former Conrail 
holdings between CSX and Norfolk Southern.

[[Page 48230]]

    Following the public scoping process, public outreach activities 
will include meetings with a Community Liaison Committee (CLC) 
established for the study and comprised of community leaders, and with 
Community Boards; public meetings and hearings; distribution of study 
fact sheets and newsletters; and use of other outreach mechanisms. 
Every effort will be made to ensure that the widest possible range of 
public participants has the opportunity to attend general public 
meetings (e.g., scoping meetings and public hearing(s)) held by Metro-
North to solicit input on the Penn Station Access MIS/DEIS. Attendance 
will be sought through mailings, notices, advertisements, and press 

II. Description of Study Area and Transportation Needs

    The study area includes: (1) The Penn Station vicinity on the West 
Side of Manhattan, (2) the corridors of Metro-North's service 
territory, including the Hudson Line (76 miles), Harlem Line (82 miles 
[including Wassaic Extension]), and New Haven Line (132 miles) 
[including the New Canaan Branch, Danbury Branch, and the Waterbury 
Branch) extending through Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester, Bronx, and New 
York (Manhattan) Counties in New York, and Fairfield and New Haven 
Counties in Connecticut; and (3) the corridors of Amtrak's Empire Line 
south of Spuyten Duyvil to Penn Station on the West Side of Manhattan, 
and Amtrak's Hell Gate Line south of New Rochelle and through 
Sunnyside, Queens. The study area also includes the vicinity of 
possible new stations and storage yards on the Hudson and New Haven 
Lines. Possible new station locations include the West Side of 
Manhattan from 57th Street to 86th Street, and Co-Op City in the Bronx. 
This study area description is generalized and considered flexible, 
subject both to the outcome of the scoping process and the locations of 
the alternatives studied in detail.
    The purpose of the Penn Station Access MIS/DEIS is to thoroughly 
examine the demand for, and the opportunities and constraints related 
to, improving access to Penn Station from the Metro-North service 
territory to the West Side of Manhattan, and to identify a preferred 
study alternative that addresses the forecasted demand in a cost-
effective, environmentally sound, and equitable way. The MIS/DEIS will 
be conducted in coordination with a regional framework of 
transportation studies; it will consider the findings, conclusions, and 
recommendations of other recent and ongoing regional transportation 
studies. The MIS/DEIS will examine and document the social, economic, 
and environmental impacts of implementing identified study 
    Provision of service to the Penn Station area would address the 
following needs:

     Commutation to Manhattan's West Side (Penn Station and 
Upper West Side areas);
     Commutation to Long Island and New Jersey (via transfer 
at Penn Station to Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) or New Jersey 
Transit (NJT) service);
     Commutation to workplaces in the vicinity of possible 
new stations on the West Side of Manhattan and Co-Op City in the 
     Reverse commutation from the West Side and Co-Op City 
to communities in the Metro-North service area;
     Discretionary (non-work-related) travel to Long Island 
and New Jersey in peak periods, off-peak periods, and on weekends; 
     Discretionary (non-work-related) travel to Manhattan's 
West Side in peak periods, off-peak periods, and on weekends for 
visits to shops, shows and museums.

III. Alternatives

    The alternatives proposed for evaluation include: (1) The No-Build 
Alternative, which involves the current infrastructure of highways, 
train, bus, and subway service, in addition to all ongoing, committed 
and funded roadway and transit projects outlined in the State 
Transportation Improvement Program (STIP); (2) the Transportation 
System Management (TSM) Alternative, which includes all elements of the 
No-Build alternative in addition to roadway and traffic improvements 
and improvements to existing transit services that address the defined 
purpose and need for Penn Station access. The TSM Alternative is a low 
cost alternative that uses existing facilities to the greatest extent 
possible to meet the study area needs. The TSM Alternative also 
provides the baseline against which the cost-effectiveness of other 
capital transit investments can be evaluated; and (3) the Build 
Alternatives, which include commuter rail service between Penn Station 
and stations on the Hudson, Harlem, and/or New Haven Lines; shuttle 
train service between key Metro-North stations and Penn Station, 
enabling riders from Grand Central Terminal-bound trains to transfer to 
Penn Station trains; potential new intermediate stations on the West 
Side of Manhattan (from 57th Street to 86th Street) and at Co-Op City 
in the Bronx; and potential new yard locations for storage of 
    Rail alternatives using the Hudson and New Haven Lines to provide 
access to Penn Station would use existing rail infrastructure by 
connecting to Amtrak's Empire Connection and Hell Gate Line, 
respectively. Alternatives using the Harlem Line to provide access to 
Penn Station may require track reconstruction at potential merge 
locations (e.g. Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx).
    Additional reasonable Build alternatives suggested during the 
scoping process, including those involving other modes, may be 

IV. Probable Effects

    The FTA and Metro-North will evaluate all potential changes to the 
social, economic, and physical environment, including land acquisition 
and displacements; land use, zoning and economic development; 
parklands; community disruption; aesthetics; historic and archeological 
resources; traffic and parking; air quality; noise and vibration; water 
quality; wetlands; ecologically sensitive areas; endangered species; 
energy requirements and potential for conservation; hazardous waste; 
environmental justice; safety and security; and cumulative impacts. Key 
areas of environmental concern would be in the areas of potential new 
construction (e.g. new stations, track connections, etc.). The impacts 
will be evaluated both for the construction period and for the long-
term period of operation of each alternative. Measures to mitigate any 
significant adverse impacts will be identified.

V. FTA Procedures

    The DEIS will be prepared in conjunction with a major investment 
study and will document the results of that study, including an 
evaluation of the potential social, economic, and environmental impacts 
of the alternatives. Upon completion, the MIS/DEIS will be available 
for public and agency review and comment. Public hearing(s) will be 
held within the study area. On the basis of the MIS/DEIS and the public 
and agency comments received, a locally preferred alternative will be 
selected, to be further detailed in the final EIS.

    Issued On: August 30, 1999.
Letitia Thompson,
Regional Administrator, TRO-II, Federal Transit Administration.
[FR Doc. 99-22926 Filed 9-1-99; 8:45 am]