[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 108 (Friday, June 5, 2015)]
[Pages 32110-32111]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-13765]



Western Area Power Administration

Record of Decision for the South Mountain Freeway (Loop 202) 
(DOE-EIS 0417)

AGENCY: Western Area Power Administration, DOE.

ACTION: Record of decision.


SUMMARY: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) prepared an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) (DOE/EIS-0417) for the 
construction of the proposed South Mountain Freeway (Loop 202) 
(Project), from the east-west alignment of Interstate 10 (Papago 
Freeway) to north-south alignment of Interstate 10 (Maricopa Freeway). 
The Project is located in the Greater Metropolitan Phoenix Area, 
southwest of the City of Phoenix in Maricopa County, Arizona. Western 
Area Power Administration (Western) was a cooperating agency in FHWA's 
EIS process.
    The FHWA selected a combination of the alternatives W59 and E1 as 
described in the EIS as their selected alternative in their Record of 
Decision (ROD). FHWA's selected alternative requires Western to issue 
letter agreements for two crossings of its transmission rights-of-way, 
and to modify its transmission system and facilities at these crossing 
locations to accommodate the construction of the Project.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information regarding 
Western's role in the project, contact: Ms. Linda Marianito, 
Environmental Manager, Desert Southwest Region, Western Area Power 
Administration, 615 S. 43rd Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85009, Telephone: (602) 
605-2524, Email: [email protected].
    The EIS and related documents may be viewed or downloaded at 
following Web site: http://azdot.gov/projects/phoenix-metro-area/loop-202-south-mountain-freeway/final-eis.
    For general information on DOE's National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) review process, please contact: Carol M. Borgstrom, Director, 
Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance, GC-54, U.S. Department of Energy, 
Washington, DC 20585, Telephone (202) 586-4600 or (800) 472-2756, 
Email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FHWA was the lead Federal agency for the 
Project EIS (FHWA-AZ-EIS-14-0-F; April 20, 2001; 77 FR 20345). Western 
was a cooperating agency for the Project EIS. After an independent 
review of the Final Project EIS, Western concluded that its needs are 
satisfied and with this notice is adopting the Project EIS for its 
participation in the Project. The FHWA signed its ROD on the Project on 
March 10, 2015, and selected a combination of the alternatives W59 and 
E1 for its selected alternative.

Western's Action

    The Project EIS addresses the effects of the Project, including 
modification of Western's transmission system. There are two locations 
on the selected Project alignment that require Western to issue license 
agreements to Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) for two 
crossings of Western's transmission rights-of-way: The Lone Butte to 
Phoenix double-circuit 230-kilovolt (kV) transmission line east of 51st 
Avenue, and the Liberty to Phoenix double-circuit 230-kV transmission 
line one-half mile north of Broadway Road.
    Western will modify its Lone Butte to Phoenix double-circuit 230-kV 
transmission line east of 51st Avenue to accommodate the Project 
construction. The modification includes relocation of two spans to the 
east. Western will work with ADOT to pursue the additional easement 
necessary for the proposed relocation.
    Western will also modify the Liberty to Phoenix double-circuit 230-
kV transmission line at the crossing one-half mile north of Broadway 
Road. The lines will need to be raised to clear the proposed elevated 
freeway and potential noise walls.

Cultural Resources

    Pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, 
the Arizona State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) has been 
involved and will continue to be involved in the cultural resources 
related to the proposed Project. The SHPO concurred with the adequacy 
of the records search and reports. ADOT, on behalf of FHWA and in 
conjunction with tribal and local authorities, Western, and the U.S. 
Bureau of Indian Affairs executed a final Programmatic Agreement (PA)

[[Page 32111]]

describing the proper treatment and management of affected cultural 
resources. Western signed the PA on October 18, 2010.

Endangered Species Act

    Pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, consultation 
was completed with the USFWS. Two candidate species, the Sonoran desert 
tortoise, and the Tucson shovel-nosed snake, have been documented in 
the Eastern Section of the Project area and suitable habitat for these 
species is present within Western's action area. Subsequent to 
completion of the Biological Evaluation for the project, the Tucson 
shovel-nosed snake was removed from the candidate species list. No 
other Federally-listed, threatened, or endangered species have been 
documented in the proposed rights-of-way. There is no critical habitat 
designated in Western's action area. In addition, Western will comply 
with recommendations found in the Biological Evaluation, South Mountain 
Transportation Corridor (July 2014), and in recommendations outlined in 
the USFWS letter dated June 10, 2014. Considering this and Western's 
limited action in the Project, Western's proposed modifications to its 
transmission system and facilities is unlikely to affect Sonoran desert 
tortoises and Tucson shovel-nosed snakes.

Alternatives Considered

    Numerous alternatives were examined during the early EIS process 
including: Modal alternatives, corridor and alignment alternatives, 
configuration alternatives, and design alternatives. As the EIS and 
public and agency scoping process progressed, many of these 
alternatives were eliminated and six broadly described build 
alternatives were developed (W59, W71, W101-east, W101-central, W101-
west, E1) as well as a no action alternative. These seven alternatives 
were carried forward for further analysis.
    FHWA ultimately selected a combination of alternatives W59 and E1 
as their preferred alternative. The no action alternative assumed that 
the Project would not be constructed and no transmission structures or 
lines would need to be modified. FHWA did not select the no action 
alternative since it did not meet the purpose and need.


    Western will adhere to its Construction Standard 13 ``Environmental 
Quality Protection'' during its transmission line modification 
activities. Long-term operations of the transmission line will follow 
Western's standard operating procedures and will not be affected by 
this action. A Mitigation Action Plan is not required for Western's 
proposed action.


    Western's decision is to adopt the EIS for its participation in the 
Project and to modify its transmission system as described above in 
support of FHWA's decision to construct their Project.\1\ This ROD was 
prepared pursuant to the requirements of the Council on Environmental 
Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the 
NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508) and DOE's NEPA Implementing Procedures 
(10 CFR part 1021).

    \1\ ``Restatement of Delegations of Environment Impact Statement 
Authorities'' from Sean A. Lev, Acting General Counsel, to Timothy 
J. Meeks dated November 16, 2011.

    Dated: May 26, 2015.
Mark A. Gabriel,
[FR Doc. 2015-13765 Filed 6-4-15; 8:45 am]