Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
FRA is issuing this Notice to solicit public and agency input in the development of the scope of the EIS and to advise the public that FRA and Michigan DOT will conduct outreach activities for the preparation of the EIS. To ensure that all significant issues are identified and considered, all interested parties are invited to comment on the proposed scope of the environmental review. Comments on the scope of the EIS, including the proposed Project's purpose and need, alternatives to be considered, the impacts to be evaluated, and the methodologies to be used in the evaluation are encouraged.
With advanced notice of seven (7) days, Michigan DOT can make additional accommodations for persons with disabilities, and/or limited English speaking ability, and persons needing auxiliary aids or services of interpreters, signers, readers, or large print. Please contact Mr. Bob Parsons, Michigan DOT Planning directly at (517) 373-9534 and toll free at (877) 351-0853 to request accommodations.
Information and documents regarding the Tier 1 EIS and environmental process will be made available for the duration of the environmental process at
The Chicago to Detroit-Pontiac Passenger Rail Corridor Program EIS is being developed to be consistent with the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI), a cooperative, multi-agency effort that began in 1996 and originally involved nine Midwest states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin), as well as FRA and Amtrak. The MWRRI elements include: use of 3,000 miles of existing rail right of way to connect rural and urban areas; operation of a Chicago hub and spoke passenger rail system; introduction of modern, high-speed trains operating at speeds up to 110 miles per hour (mph); and multi-modal connections to improve system access. The MWRRI envisions developing a passenger rail system that offers business and leisure travelers shorter travel times, additional train frequencies, improved reliability and connections between urban centers and smaller communities. The Tier 1 EIS will evaluate alternatives for the Corridor considering the MWRRI objective “to meet current and future regional travel needs through significant improvements to the level and quality of passenger rail service” (MWRRI Executive Report, September 2004).
When operating on the Corridor, the existing Amtrak Wolverine Service travels over tracks that are owned by several different railroads. In Illinois, the Amtrak Wolverine Service travels over Amtrak-owned track near Union Station and then transitions to track owned by Norfolk Southern until Porter, Indiana. Between Porter, Indiana and Kalamazoo, Michigan, the Amtrak Wolverine Service travels over Amtrak-owned track, which is the only section of track on the Corridor (and outside the Northeast Corridor) that allows trains to travel up to 110 mph (80 of the 97 miles of this Amtrak-owned track allow this maximum speed). In 2011, Michigan DOT entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Norfolk Southern, with financial assistance from FRA, pursuant to which Michigan DOT will acquire the 135 mile Norfolk Southern right-of-way between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, Michigan (with certain limited exceptions). At the time of publication of this Notice, that transaction had not yet closed. Once the transaction has been completed, Michigan DOT will own the right-of-way between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, Michigan (with certain limited exceptions), and Norfolk Southern will operate freight trains over that track pursuant to an easement. From Dearborn to West Detroit Junction, Michigan, the Amtrak Wolverine Service travels primarily on track owned and operated by Conrail Shared Assets Operations, which is jointly owned by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern. In addition, Canadian National Railroad owns the Corridor track between West Detroit Junction and Pontiac, Michigan, as well as a two-mile section of track within Battle Creek, Michigan.
Infrastructure investment needed to increase train speed will also allow an increase in the frequency of service. Enhanced capacity of Corridor infrastructure would make the service more reliable and more likely to succeed in attracting ridership, increasing mobility and enhancing transit oriented economic development opportunities near proposed stations. Improved intercity passenger rail service in the Corridor would provide a reliable alternative travel mode to avoid increasingly congested Midwest highways and airports and substantial travel delays resulting from existing conditions, including peak hour highway delays, security, and related delays associated with air travel, and adverse weather conditions. The need to reduce highway congestion and delays at airports, and to ease the transportation-related effects of further population growth over the long term, is becoming increasingly imperative within the Corridor.
• Confirming the purpose and need for the proposed action.
• Confirming the study area appropriate to assess reasonable alternatives.
• Identifying a comprehensive set of goals and objectives for the corridor in conjunction with Program stakeholders. These goals and objectives will be crafted to allow comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of the Corridor necessary to achieve the goals, including train operations, vehicles, and infrastructure.
• Identifying the range of reasonable alternatives to be considered, consistent with the current and planned use of the corridor and the existing services within and adjacent to the study area, as well as considering a no-action (no-build) alternative.
• Developing alternative evaluation criteria to identify alternatives that meet the purpose and need of the proposed action and those that do not.
• Identifying the general alignment(s) of the reasonable build alternatives.
• Identifying general right-of-way requirements for the reasonable build alternatives.
• Identifying, at a corridor planning level, the infrastructure and equipment investment requirements for the reasonable build alternatives.
• Including the consideration of the no-build alternative which will be studied as the baseline for comparison with the build alternatives. The no-build alternative represents other transportation modes such as auto, air travel, intercity bus, and existing rail and the physical characteristics and capacities as they exist at the time of the Tier 1 EIS, with planned and funded improvements that will be in place at the time the Project becomes operational.
• Evaluating and describing, at a corridor planning level, the potential environmental consequences (benefits and impacts to the built and natural environment) associated with the reasonable alternative alignments and proposed changes in passenger rail train frequency, speed, and on-time performance.
• Establishing the timing and sequencing of independent actions to maintain a state of good repair and to implement the proposed action.
• Selecting a corridor route alignment for further study at Tier 2.
• Addressing subsequent component actions for Tier 2 NEPA documentation as described below.
Michigan DOT will lead the outreach activities, beginning with the four (4) scoping meetings and the online scoping meeting described above. Public involvement initiatives, including public meetings, newsletters, and outreach will be held throughout the course of this study. Opportunities for public participation will be announced through mailings, notices, advertisements, press releases and at