[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 146 (Friday, July 30, 2010)]
[Pages 45008-45010]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-18703]



Federal Transit Administration

Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for a 
Proposed Light Rail Transit Line in Detroit, MI

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

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


SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), as the federal lead 
agency, and the City of Detroit (the City) intend to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Woodward Avenue 
Light Rail Transit (LRT) project in Detroit, Michigan. The proposed 
project, described more completely within, is an LRT line that would 
begin in downtown Detroit near the Detroit River and extend northwest 
along Woodward Avenue (M-1), terminating near Eight-Mile Road (M-102) 
in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. The purpose of this notice is to 
alert interested parties regarding the intent to prepare the EIS, to 
provide information on the nature of the proposed project and possible 
alternatives, and 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 the Headquarters office of FTA on or 
before September 13, 2010. See ADDRESSES below for the address to which 
written comments may be sent. A public scoping meeting, at which 
questions about the project will be addressed and written comments will 
be accepted, will be held on the following date:
     Saturday, August 14, 2010; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; at the 
Considine Little Rock Family Life Center (Auditorium), 8904 Woodward 
Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202. Telephone (313) 876-0131
     Saturday, August 14, 2010; 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; at the 
Considine Little Rock Family Life Center (Auditorium), 8904 Woodward 
Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202. Telephone (313) 876-0131
    The building used for the scoping meetings is accessible to persons 
with disabilities. Any individual who requires special assistance, such 
as a sign language interpreter, to participate in the scoping meeting 
should contact Linnette Phillips, Public Involvement Coordinator, at 
Pierce, Monroe & Associates, LLC at (313)-961-1940 or monroe.com">[email protected]monroe.com, five days prior to the meeting.
    Information describing the project purpose and need and the 
alternatives proposed for analysis will be available at the meetings 
and on the project Web site at http://www.woodwardlightrail. com. Paper 
copies of the information materials may also be obtained from Mr. Tim 
Roseboom, Manager, Strategic Planning & Scheduling Division, City of 
Detroit Department of Transportation at (313)-833-1196 or 
[email protected]. Representatives of Native American tribal 
governments and of all 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.

[[Page 45009]]

ADDRESSES: Written comments will be accepted at the public scoping 
meetings or they may be sent to: Ms. Tricia Harr, AICP, Federal Transit 
Administration Headquarters, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, 
DC 20590, e-mail [email protected].

Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., E43-105, Washington, DC 
20590, phone 202-366-0486, e-mail [email protected].



    FTA and the City of Detroit invite all interested individuals and 
organizations, public agencies, and Native American Tribes to comment 
on the scope of the EIS for the proposed LRT line, 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 
purpose and need with fewer adverse impacts, and (2) any significant 
environmental impacts relating to the alternatives.
    ``Scoping'' as described in the regulations implementing the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (Title 40 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations (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 * * * [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). 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 
    Once the scope of the environmental study, including significant 
environmental issues to be addressed, is settled, an annotated outline 
of the document will be prepared and shared with participating agencies 
and posted on the project Web site. The 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 

Purpose and Need for the Project

    The purpose of the LRT project is to improve public transit service 
and provide greater mobility options for the Woodward Avenue Corridor; 
improve transportation equity among all travelers; improve transit 
capacity along the Corridor; improve linkages to major activity centers 
along the Corridor; and support the City's economic development goals 
and encourage reinvestment in Detroit's urban core.
    The need for the project is based on the following considerations: 
Strong existing bus ridership and large potential ridership due to 
major activity centers along the Corridor; a heavily transit-dependent 
population along the Corridor; overcrowding, reliability issues, and 
lack of rapid transit alternatives with the current bus system; air 
quality issues due to the region's nonattainment status; and focus of 
local policy on transit improvements rather than roadway improvements 
as part of a more balanced and sustainable approach to future growth.
    The proposed LRT system represents a major step to promote regional 
and local rapid transit improvements in Southeast Michigan.

Project Location and Environmental Setting

    The proposed project area lies along Woodward Avenue in central 
Detroit. The limits of the project area are the Detroit River in the 
south and Eight Mile Road (M-102) in the north. The project area is 
highly developed, with significant industrial and commercial (retail 
and office) and residential (single- and multi-family) developments. 
The project area includes the City of Highland Park within the City of 
    As the LRT extends northwest, it would cross I-75, Warren Avenue, 
I-94, Grand Boulevard, West Chicago Boulevard/Arden Park Boulevard, 
East Davison Road (M-8), and enter Highland Park. It would continue to 
extend northwest, passing the former Ford Motor Company Model T site on 
the east, cross McNicholas Road, run adjacent to the eastern boundary 
of Palmer Park, cross Seven Mile Road, run adjacent to the eastern 
boundary of Woodlawn Cemetery, run adjacent to the western boundary of 
the State Fair grounds, and terminate near Eight Mile Road. The 
extension would include 9.3 new route miles of rapid transit with new 
transit stations, parking facilities, and a vehicle storage and 
maintenance facility.

Possible Alternatives

    The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) completed the 
Detroit Transit Options for Growth Study (DTOGS) Alternative Analysis 
(AA) in 2008, which evaluated potential corridors, technology, and 
alignment alternatives. This AA Study is posted on the project Web 
site. The City selected Woodward Avenue as the Locally Preferred 
Alternative (LPA) with Light Rail Transit as the preferred modal option 
in April 2008. The LPA was amended into the Southeast Michigan Council 
of Government's (SEMCOG's) long-range transportation plan, 
Direction2035: The Regional Transportation Plan for Southeast Michigan 
(Direction2035), in June 2008, and the current fiscally constrained FY 
2008-2011 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Accordingly, the 
following alternatives are proposed to be evaluated in the DEIS:
    No Build Alternative: The No Build Alternative is defined as the 
existing transportation system, plus any committed transportation 
improvements. Committed transportation improvements include the highway 
and transit projects in SEMCOG's current fiscally constrained long-
range transportation plan, Direction2035, as amended, except for the 
proposed Woodward Avenue LRT. The No Build Alternative serves as the 
NEPA baseline against which the environmental effects of other 
alternatives, including the proposed project, are measured. Under the 
No Build Alternative, the transit network within the project area is 
projected to be substantially the same as it is now, with bus service 
adjusted to meet anticipated demand. All elements of the No Build 
Alternative are included in each of the other alternatives.
    LRT Alternatives: The LRT Alternatives would utilize LRT technology 
and operate along the

[[Page 45010]]

Woodward Avenue alignment as described above. LRT is an electric 
railway that may use shared (street) or exclusive rights-of-way with 
multi-car trains or single cars powered electrically by overhead wire, 
boarding passengers at track level or car floor level.
    Other refinements to the LRT alternatives will be considered as 
part of the Draft EIS alternatives' evaluation process, which includes 
refinement of the proposed alignment, project termini, operating plans, 
station locations, and/or design alternatives, such as median-running 
vs. curb-running location within the preferred alignment. While the 
environmental process will examine the entire 9.3 mile project, the 
first 3.4 miles of the project (from the Detroit River to Grand 
Boulevard) may be constructed and operated as an initial phase, with 
the remainder being constructed as a second phase.
    In addition to the alternatives described above, other transit 
alternatives identified through the public and agency scoping process 
will be evaluated for potential inclusion in the EIS.

Possible Effects

    The purpose of this EIS process is to study, in a public setting, 
the potentially significant effects of the proposed project and its 
alternatives on the quality of the human environment, as well as the 
natural environment. The AA Study and recent reviews of the study area 
suggest that the impact areas of investigation for this proposed 
transit project include, but are not limited to: Traffic and parking; 
historic and cultural resources; noise and vibration; community 
impacts; and business impacts. Investigation will reveal if and to what 
degree the proposed project would affect those areas. Measures to 
avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse impacts will be identified and 

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), call for public involvement in the EIS 
process. Section 6002 of SAFETEA-LU (23 U.S.C. 139) requires that FTA 
and the City 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. 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 and a Coordination Plan 
for public and interagency involvement will be developed for the 
project and posted on the project's Web site at http://www.woodwardlightrail.com. The public involvement program includes a 
full range of activities including maintaining the project 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.

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 
written request for a complete printed set of environmental documents 
is received by the close of the scoping process by the Project Manager 
identified under ADDRESSES, FTA and its grantees will distribute only 
the executive summary and a Compact Disc (CD) of the complete 
environmental document. A complete printed set of the environmental 
document will be available for review at the project sponsor's offices 
and elsewhere; an electronic copy of the complete environmental 
document will also be available on the project Web site.


    The City is expecting to seek New Starts funding for the proposed 
project under 49 United States Code 5309 and will, therefore, be 
subject to New Starts regulations (49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 
Part 611). The New Starts regulations also require the submission of 
certain project-justification and local financial commitment 
information to support a request to FTA for approval into the 
Preliminary Engineering phase of the New Starts review process. 
Pertinent New Starts evaluation criteria will be included in the EIS.
    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). Related environmental procedures to be 
addressed during the NEPA process include, but are not limited to, 
Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice; Section 106 of the 
National Historic Preservation Act; and Section 4(f) of the DOT Act (49 
U.S.C. 303).

    Issued on: July 23, 2010.
Marisol Simon,
Regional Administrator, Federal Transit Administration Region V, 
Chicago, Illinois.
[FR Doc. 2010-18703 Filed 7-29-10; 8:45 am]