Major Milestone Achieved! CATS Publishes Final Environmental Impact Statement
Applicants for federal funding of major transit projects are required to complete an environmental document, called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This document, prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, is a comprehensive assessment of the environmental impacts of the project alternatives. The proposed LYNX Blue Line Extension (LYNX BLE) is a 9.3-mile extension of the existing light rail line to serve the Northeast Corridor from Center City Charlotte to UNC Charlotte.
CATS recently completed the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS). The Final EIS evaluates the social, economic, environmental and transportation effects associated with the LYNX Blue Line Extension (LYNX BLE) light rail project. The Final EIS also includes responses to comments received on the Draft EIS, and planned mitigation measures to reduce anticipated impacts.
The FTA requires a minimum of a 30-day review and comment period. CATS distributed the Notice of Availability for the Final EIS and the Final EIS to all interested and affected parties on September 9, 2011; electronic copies of the Final EIS and related technical reports were also made available on CATS’ website. The Notice of Availability was advertised in four local papers of general circulation (La Noticia, Que Pasa, the Charlotte Post and the Charlotte Observer) between September 21-25, 2011. CATS also held a public meeting on October 11, 2011 to review the findings and proposed mitigation detailed in the Final EIS. The Notice of Availability appeared in the Federal Register on October 14, 2011, which initiates the mandatory 30-day period for public review and comment. Written comments were received through Monday, November 14, 2011.
View the Final EIS Notice of Availability. In addition to the electronic copy, hardcopies of the Final EIS are available for public review at CATS office, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center (ninth floor) and in the following libraries: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library – Main Branch, Sugar Creek Branch, and University City Regional Branch; UNC Charlotte – J. Murrey Atkins Library and the State Library of North Carolina in Raleigh, NC.
For more information regarding the Final EIS contact:
Charlotte Area Transit System
600 East Fourth Street, Ninth Floor
Charlotte, NC 28202
Federal Transit Administration
230 Peachtree Street, NW, Suite 800
Atlanta, GA 30303-1512
If you would like to obtain a hard copy of the Final EIS, you may purchase a copy from Ikon Print Shop.
Ikon Print Shop
Attention: Bert Johnson
600 East 4th Street
Final EIS: $36.26 plus tax per volume.
The Final EIS is two volumes.
Upon completion and approval of the Final EIS, FTA issued a determination that sufficient environmental analysis has been completed and will identify the locally preferred alternative. This determination, called a Record of Decision (ROD), describes the basis for the decision, identifies alternatives that were considered, and summarizes specific mitigation measures that will be incorporated into the Project. FTA signed and issued the ROD in December 2011.
More Information About the Environmental Process
What is an EIS?
The purpose of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is to provide a full and open evaluation of environmental issues and alternatives, and to inform decision-makers and the public of reasonable alternatives that could avoid or minimize adverse impacts and enhance the quality of the environment. The following is a list of tasks that are performed in order to prepare an EIS:
Notice of Intent and Scoping:
The EIS process begins with FTA's publication of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS in the Federal Register along with similar grantee announcements in local newspapers and other media. At this time, a tentative list of alternatives and impacts is established and presented to the public and interested government agencies for comment. This notification is part of scoping - the process of affording an early opportunity for the public and agencies to identify potential issues to be addressed in the EIS. The NOI for the LYNX BLE was published in September 2000.
Draft Environmental Impact Statement:
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is prepared in two stages - draft and final. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) provides an opportunity for government agencies and the public to review a proposed project and alternatives. The principle components of a Draft EIS include discussion of the following 1) the purpose of and need for action; 2) alternatives, including the proposed action; 3) the affected environment; and 4) environmental consequences.
Agency/Public Review and Comment:
Once the Draft EIS has been completed and signed by the appropriate FTA official, a notification of availability (NOA) is published in the Federal Register and advertised through local media to solicit public comment by the local lead agency. The Draft EIS is circulated to agencies, parties that have expressed an interest and other entities potentially affected by any of the alternatives. The circulation period must last a minimum of 45 days and a public hearing must be held with at least 15 days prior notice.
The LYNX BLE Draft EIS NOA was published in the Federal Register on August 27, 2010. This notification commenced the 45-day circulation period, which concluded on October 12, 2010. The public hearing for the LYNX BLE Draft EIS was held on September 22, 2010. Written comments were accepted during the entire 45-day circulation period. Written and verbal comments were accepted at the public hearing. To view the transcript of the public hearing or information presented at the public meetings, please see the BLE Public Meeting Summaries page.
Final Environmental Impact Statement:
After completion of the circulation period, all substantive written comments and the public hearing testimony are addressed and the preparation of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) begins. The principle components of the Final EIS include: 1) identification of a preferred alternative; 2) responses to comments made during the circulation period; 3) commitments to mitigate adverse impacts of the project; 4) evidence of compliance with related environmental statutes, Executive Orders and regulations; and 5) a description of changes that have been made to the project since the Draft EIS was published. Once the appropriate FTA official has approved the Final EIS, it is distributed and advertised through local media by the local lead agency. CATS received approval from FTA on August 29, 2011.
Record of Decision (ROD):
BLE Record of Decision Signed by FTA December 2011.
Following the circulation period, the FTA issues a Record of Decision (ROD), a report that states FTA's determination that NEPA has been completed for the project. The ROD describes the basis for FTA's decision, identifies alternatives that were considered, and summarizes specific mitigation measures that will be incorporated into the project. If the project is approved, then the applicant may proceed into the Final Design and construction phases, including right-of-way acquisitions.
In December 2011, FTA signed and issued the ROD on the BLE.
From the FTA website: http://www.fta.dot.gov/