urban rail environmental
In order for large infrastructure projects, such as Urban Rail, to be eligible for federal funding, they must complete a federally lead review process according to the requirements established by the National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA (“neepa”). Information on NEPA as it relates to transit projects can be found here.
Status (November 2012)
In response to some of the comments received, formally and informally, during the 2011 Scoping process regarding the proposed Urban Rail system’s place in our region’s overall high-capacity transit system, the City has embarked upon a regional High-Capacity Transit System Plan with its regional partners, CAMPO, Capital Metro, and Lone Star Rail, through a unique regional partnership effort known as Project Connect. To implement these projects, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell has convened a group of regional stakeholders for a panel called the Transit Working Group.
Next, the City will start a corridor study to look in greater detail at alignment and travel mode alternatives within the proposed Downtown to Mueller corridor, planned to start in early 2013. Following completion of the study and selection of a “Locally Preferred Alternative*” (LPA), the City and FTA will re-activate the NEPA process to study potential impacts related to the proposed LPA.
[*Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA): The mode, alignment, stations, and termini locations selected for a high-capacity transit project by local jurisdictions. The LPA is the end result of the review process. Following completion of NEPA the LPA must be adopted into the region’s long-range transportation plan before it can receive FTA New Starts Program funding.]
The first step in the NEPA process is “Scoping”, which invites participation from the public, interest groups, and government agencies to weigh in on the scope of the project, including the purpose and need, the alternatives, the methodologies, and any significant issues related to the project. For Urban Rail, Scoping was initiated in March 2011 with the publication of a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register, as well as locally.
In order to guide the public and agency involvement efforts, the City and its federal Lead Agency, FTA, prepared plans for each of these constituencies:
Download the draft Public Involvement Plan
Download the draft Agency Coordination Plan
Public and Agency Scoping meetings were held in April 2011. Information presented during Scoping included the following:
Environmental Impact Statement supplemental booklet, April 2011 (en Español)
Scoping Report [new]
FTA and the City have recently (November 2012) published the Urban Rail EIS Scoping Report, which documents the Scoping process activities, comments received, and initial responses.
Public & Agency Scoping Comments
All of the comments received during the 2011 Scoping process have been compiled into databases, which have been converted to downloadable and searchable pdfs.
Agency Scoping Comments (Posted 08/10/12)
Public & Agency Scoping Comment Responses
In response to the public and agency comments received during Scoping, FTA and the City prepared categorized and consolidated response matrices for all of the comments germane to the NEPA process. These summary tables provide our estimation of where those germane comments will be directly addressed during the overall project development process.
Austin Urban Rail Scoping Comment Summary-Public (Posted 08/10/12)
Austin Urban Rail Scoping Comment Summary-Agency (Posted 08/10/12)
Prior to initiating the NEPA process in 2011 (see below), the City conducted a preparatory study of existing conditions throughout the system proposed by the July 2010 Central Austin Transit Study.
Pre-NEPA Environmental Study, September 2010
- Figures: Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3A • Part 3B • Part 4 • Part 5
- Appendix A: Photo Documentation
- Appendix B: Noise Study