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Appendix E – Alameda Corridor

Mode Rail, Marine, Highway
Ownership Public/Private
Commodity Type Various
Location Urban, West
Lead Federal Agency FHWA, FRA
Cooperating Agencies Surface Transportation Board
Review Agencies U.S. EPA, Surface Transportation Board, FWS, COE
State or Local Agencies: Caltrans and Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority

Environmental Issues:
Air Quality Major Issue
Cultural Resources Major Issue
Land Use Issue
Local Transportation Major Issue
Natural Resources No Issue
Noise/vibration Major Issue
Hazardous Waste No Issue
Socioeconomics Major Issue
Water Quality Major Issue

Environmental Review Process:
NEPA, including agency consultation Major Issue
Use of structured process Issue
Integration of NEPA and state processes Major Issue
Timing of environmental review initiation No Issue
Effect of process on project design and alternatives Major Issue
Multi-agency review Major Issue
Public involvement Major Issue

Project Description

The Alameda Corridor will be a twenty mile consolidated railroad link, centered along Alameda Street, extending from downtown Los Angeles to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The ports comprise the largest seaport complex in the U.S. and the third largest in the world. The project will consolidate the rail operations of four mainlines (one owned by Union Pacific (UP), two by Southern Pacific (SP), which have merged since the environmental analysis began, and one by Santa Fe (ATSF), which later merged with Burlington Northern). Currently, trains operating to and from the ports run on 90 miles of track. In 1993, 32 trains per day operated to and from the ports. The average speeds on these lines are in the range of 10 to 20 miles per hour because of a large number of grade crossings and other restrictions. The four mainlines have 198 at-grade street crossings and have over 70,000 people living within 500 feet. The ports are expected to experience a shift toward an increased reliance on containers with a commensurate increase in rail activity. According to the EIS, part of this growth is attributable the development of on-dock or near-dock railyards that will result in an estimated 23 percent reduction in truck movements by the year 2020. By the year 2020, an estimated 97 trains per day will be moving in and out of the ports. The "Purpose and Need" as stated in the EIS is that utilization of existing unimproved corridors under this scenario will result in impairment of rail and street traffic flow and increased noise and air pollution. The depressed trainway will have two mainline tracks in addition to an at-grade track serving local industries. Alameda Street would be reconstructed to accompany the depressed track. Overpasses configured to match existing street geometry would allow passage across the depressed trainway at designated streets.

Environmental Issues of Concern

Air Quality: For the purposes of CEQA, the construction of the corridor would produce emissions of criteria pollutants and fugitive dust in quantities above significance thresholds established by the South Coast Air Quality District. These construction emissions were not considered substantial under NEPA. Under the No Build alternative, locomotive, auto, and truck regional criteria emissions would increase substantially. The proposed action was projected to have a substantial reduction in all criteria pollutants. Car and truck emissions decline slightly.

Cultural Resources: The Corridor would avoid the Watson Station, which had been determined eligible for the National Register. Findings of No Effect were reached for several structures and a Finding of No Adverse Effect was reached for the Redondo Junction Historic District. The EIS indicated that the area between 109th and 111th Streets was sensitive for archaeological resources. One site, located in the vicinity of the midpoint of the Corridor, was reported to have burials when it was discovered in 1969. However, it is outside the area of potential effect. The other site is located on the Dominquez Hills overlooking Compton Creek and the Los Angles River. The site was discovered in 1969 and was described as a seasonal village or camp site which had already been effectively destroyed by roads and grading activity. In addition, a Phase I Archaeological Study was conducted in 1992. The results of the archaeological field reconnaissance revealed no surface evidence of prehistoric or historic archaeological resources within the project Area of Potential Effects. Therefore, the EIS concluded that the APE is considered to contain no known important prehistoric or historic archaeological resources with the possible exception of the area in the vicinity of the site with the potential burials. The EIS indicated that a qualified archaeologist would be contacted promptly if the construction of the project encountered unanticipated cultural resource remains. The fact that burials have been found in the past indicates the possible presence of an important resource. Therefore, they planned to conduct archaeological monitoring in that area. During the construction process 30 Native American skeletons were discovered. This led to the preparation of a recovery plan.

Land Use: Under the No Build alternative, increased train traffic could potentially have substantial incompatibility with some adjacent land uses. The construction of the Alameda Corridor does not represent a major change to existing uses and will not impede the achievement of local planning goals.

Local Transportation: The construction of the Alameda Corridor could result in potentially substantial traffic disruption at various locations throughout the construction period. During the operations phase of the No Build alternative, the increased train volumes and deteriorated roadway conditions would result in increasing delays, slower speeds, and less capacity to handle future demands. The operation of the Alameda Corridor is expected to improve overall traffic handling capacity. Grade separated crossings over the depressed railroad, left turn pockets, and improved signalization would improve traffic conditions in the project area. In terms of traffic capacity at intersections, the No Build alternative is estimated to have substantial impacts to three intersections in 2010 and 65 intersections in 2020. The operation of the Alameda Corridor is estimated to result in substantial impacts at two intersections in 2020. The addition of turning lanes would mitigate these impacts. Under the No Build alternative, auto/train accidents would increase as the growth in freight trains increases. The Alameda Corridor would reduce those accidents because conflicts would be eliminated along the Corridor and train volumes will be reduced on the other rail lines. The state is required to implement traffic maintenance plans during construction to mitigate temporary impacts.

Although the project may increase the potential for accidents involving train derailments and spills by increasing the number of trains, the provision of improved tracks and equipment and cross-street grade separations would decrease the accident potential. The likelihood of injuries or property damage would be substantially reduced due to containment provided by the trench. The potential for accidents on the other lines would decrease as train activity decreased.

Noise/vibration: The construction of the corridor could produce intrusive noise at some locations. Train operations under the No Build alternative would have substantial impacts for 69 residences. For the portion of the Proposed Action within the Alameda Corridor, 92 residences and two community facilities would experience a substantial impact. With the construction of noise barriers, the residual impacts would potentially effect eight residences and two community facilities. The use of sound insulation for buildings will be explored and implemented where practicable. Along the SP, UP, and ATSF branches the proposed project would reduce residential noise exposure from 29,800 to zero. Potentially substantial vibration effects could occur during operation at certain points. Various design and operational approaches will be used to reduce vibration potential, including relocation of trackwork away from sensitive areas, installation of ballast mats, and use of movable points frogs where needed.

Socioeconomics: The construction of the Alameda Corridor will require up to 40 full acquisitions and up to 16 partial acquisitions of commercial properties. Under the Uniform Relocation and Assistance Act, comparable housing has been identified and assistance with relocation for both residents and business people has been provided. In terms of effects on schools, the Alameda Corridor would greatly reduce train conflicts for students walking across Alameda Street. However, the project would result in increased noise effects at two schools located along the corridor. The use of sound insulation for buildings will be explored and implemented where practicable. The residual impact is expected to be potentially substantial. In addition, the project would result in noise impacts at one church. The use of sound insulation for the building will be explored and implemented where practicable. The residual impact is not substantial.

Construction of the project will have substantial impacts on businesses along the corridor. They will experience reduced vehicular and pedestrian access, traffic detours, noise and other inconveniences. Mitigation measures are expected to reduce the impacts to potentially substantial and include signs to direct customers along alternate routes to businesses; traffic management to maintain access; and a business outreach program. Any relocated businesses would be compensated under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act.

The EIS addressed environmental justice. Land uses surrounding the corridor are primarily industrial with only a small proportion consisting of residences. Those residences were occupied by minorities. The proposed action would result in only four residences having noise impacts after the implementation of noise attenuation walls. The proposed action would result in a 90 percent reduction in population exposure to railroad noise on all lines serving the ports. A number of mitigation measures involving landscaping and urban design will be implemented in response to perceived visual effects in one of the Central Business Districts (Compton) and in recognition of the need to apply urban design measures to the corridor as a whole. The environmental justice analysis also considered the beneficial effects of the proposed action, especially the improved traffic circulation and reduced grade crossing accidents. Based on the small number of minority residences that would be impacted and the substantial number of minority residences that would benefit from the noise reductions, the EIS determined that there were no disproportionate adverse impacts to minority or low-income populations.

Water Quality: The EIS indicated that construction of the Corridor may require dewatering in some portions. In addition, the addition of footings and columns for the crossings of the Los Angeles River, Compton Creek, and Dominquez Channel could affect the flood control capacity of these waters. They planned to design the columns and footings for appropriate hydrology considerations in coordination with the COE and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.

Environmental Review Process

NEPA, including agency consultation: Planning for the Alameda Corridor began in 1981 when the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) created the Ports Advisory Committee. The Committee conducted various planning activities which eventually led to the creation of the Alameda Corridor Task Force in 1985, which in turn led to the creation of the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA) in 1989. ACTA began conceptual engineering in 1990, to more fully define the project. Simultaneously, FHWA intended to be the lead federal agency and a joint EIR/EIS was envisioned. FHWA started a NEPA scoping process in 1991. Subsequently, FHWA funding was limited to specific grade crossing separations allowing individual categorical exclusions for these actions. ACTA withdrew from the NEPA process and advanced the project under CEQA alone.

ACTA developed a range of conceptual engineering alternatives and reviewed them in a Draft EIR, which was issued in August, 1992, and a Final EIR, which was issued in January, 1993. ACTA selected a locally preferred alternative.

After completion of the EIR, ACTA, Caltrans, and FHWA decided that additional federal funding should be applied for and that FHWA and FRA should prepare an EIS. FHWA and FRA stated in the FEIS that they had decided to make maximum use of the analyses undertaken for the EIR. Therefore, the EIS expanded on the EIR where it was necessary to address federal requirements that the EIR did not have to address. Additional subjects requiring analysis included: additional documentation to address Clean Air Act requirements, including a conformity determination, the Section 106 process for cultural resources, COE requirements for hydrology and water quality, additional documentation for hazardous materials requested by FHWA and EPA, and coordination required for threatened and endangered species.

Prior to the re-initiation of the Alameda Corridor EIS by the FHWA and FRA, the COE and the Port of Los Angeles/Los Angeles Harbor Department prepared an EIS/EIR for the modification of the Port of Los Angeles Master Plan. The EIS/EIR was completed in 1992. The purpose of the Plan was to accommodate increased cargo throughput and the relocation of hazardous and other facilities. The plan included dredging navigation channels and turning basins in Los Angeles Harbor and the creation of about 582 acres of new landfill to support new terminals and associated handling and storage facilities. The facilities will be developed in four increments over time as needed. Similarly, the Port of Long Beach was designing and building a comprehensive program of grade separation projects that were supposed to dramatically reduce train-related traffic blockages at the Port. The program was slated for completion by 1997. In addition, the Port was improving efficiency and expanding capacity of their on-dock rail facilities. Those improvements were designed to speed flow of cargo through the Port and reduce Port-related truck traffic on roadways and freeways. The Alameda Corridor EIS assumed that these projects would be in place for the purposes of the Alameda Corridor project, and were therefore also part of the No Build Alternative.

The FHWA and FRA reinitiated the NEPA process with a Notice of Intent in December 1993. They consulted with three federal agencies during the preparation of the EIS: EPA, FWS, and COE. EPA submitted a comment letter during the scoping process in which they raised concerns about the selection of alternatives and air quality impacts. In May 1994, subsequent to the scoping process, FHWA and EPA held a meeting at EPA's Region 9 offices in San Francisco to discuss the project and its environmental documentation. The meeting included staff from FHWA Region 9, FHWA California Division, Port of Los Angeles, and project consultants. The key comments in EPA's follow-up letter included air quality, train derailments and spills, and water quality. Their comments were largely based on their review of the Final EIR, which they had not previously reviewed. Regarding air quality, EPA commented on potential violations of the carbon monoxide and particulate matter standards and the application of the Conformity Rule to the project. Their concerns over emergency response focused on the need for a plan that addresses worst case scenarios. They commented that, among other requirements, such a plan should be designed to address sensitive receptors and natural resources in a timely way. The plan should be sent for review and comment to EPA, the Coast Guard, FWS, California Office of Emergency Services, California EPA, Los Angeles County, municipal fire departments, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Fish and Game, and the Highway Patrol. Their comments on water quality centered on the need for stormwater discharge permits for the construction and operational phases and as well as the need for nonpoint source controls. In addition, EPA noted that the Executive Order on Environmental Justice had just been signed and that the DEIS should reflect its requirements. FHWA addressed these comments in the Draft EIS. FHWA also consulted with the COE on the proposed waterway crossings, which included two meetings. The COE indicted that the crossings may meet the general terms and conditions for a nationwide permit. Consultation with the FWS regarding the California least tern resulted in a response that potential effects are remote and therefore formal consultation is unnecessary.

They issued the Draft EIS in January 1995. The comment letters received during the scoping process came from: two federal agencies (EPA and the Surface Transportation Board), three regional agencies, five County of Los Angeles agencies, 17 local jurisdictions, eight private organizations, businesses and individuals. Approximately 90 people attended the public hearing and 30 people spoke.

Among the written comments, EPA's main concerns focused on air quality. EPA commented that although DEIS and conformity analysis suggest that the project would help reduce air pollution levels, there are opportunities to implement additional mitigation measures. As an example they recommended a program to reduce vehicle miles traveled by construction workers. They also had numerous comments on the technical aspects of the air quality modeling. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California strongly objected to the alternative preferred by the local entities because of the potentially significant costs and impacts upon existing water conveyance facilities. The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were concerned about the secondary or cumulative impacts from the increase in port-related rail traffic eastward of the Corridor (grade crossing delay, congestion, and air quality). Several of their member governments also provided similar comments. The Southern California Association of Governments commented that the project is consistent with the Regional Comprehensive Plan and Guide and is vital to the region's future growth. The Los Angeles Unified School District raised concerns about vibration during construction and operation of the Corridor, traffic circulation, air quality, and noise. The City of Compton submitted over 140 pages of comments on a broad range of subjects and proposed a covered depressed trainway and roadway (a tunnel). The City of Lynnwood commented on local transportation, utilities, mitigation of air pollution, and economic benefits (local hiring policy). The City of Vernon supports the locally preferred alternative and among their other comments, noted that the "EIS should discuss the importance of the Alameda Corridor Project with regard to its mitigation of individual and cumulative" impacts which are anticipated for the port projects related to the Corridor. They also commented that the EIS should recognize that the Alameda Corridor project is the mitigation for the impacts resulting from the other port projects. The comments of the Cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles were generally supportive. A family commented on existing grade crossing delays. A citizen of Compton commented on property devaluation, emergency response access, increased noise, air pollution, and vibration. Two oil companies commented on potential impacts to their pipelines and one commented on access for emergency response vehicles. A land company, which owns over 450 acres and nearly 3 million square feet of office and light industrial space along the Corridor, commented on loss of access and impacts from noise and vibration.

Many of the issues raised at the public hearing pertained to the City of Compton and included: vehicle access, impacts on schools, law enforcement and public safety issues, concerns about graffiti, a perception that there would be a large increase in trench traffic, job creation and the need for employment outreach efforts, and project cost. Other comments addressed: potential grade separations in the City of Lynnwood, the I-105/Imperial Highway Interchange, parking, landscaping, and business access along the corridor.

The Final EIS was issued in February 1996. In May 1997, the Secretary of Transportation delegated to the Administrator of FHWA, the authority to manage DOT's $400 million loan with ACTA. Other related activities outside the Alameda Corridor include the Alameda Corridor East and a Southern California Association of Governments study to determine the best way of moving rail traffic eastward through Southern California. The study addresses the potential for additional consolidated along one or more lines. The Alameda Corridor East project involves a series of transportation safety improvements at 55 grade crossings along 35 miles of ROW throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

The FHWA and FRA reinitiated the NEPA process with a Notice of Intent in December 1993. They issued the Draft EIS in January 1995 and the Final EIS in February 1996. In May 1997, the Secretary of Transportation delegated to the Administrator of FHWA, the authority to manage DOT's $400 million loan with ACTA.

Integration of NEPA and state environmental review processes: The CEQA process began about nine months before the NEPA process because federal funding was not identified, and thus NEPA was not triggered, until later in the planning process. The locally preferred alternative under CEQA was also the federally preferred alternative under NEPA. The FHWA wanted to streamline the NEPA process. One way to have accomplished this would have been to adopt the CEQA document for the purposes of NEPA. However, as mentioned above, FHWA needed to conduct additional analyses to meet federal requirements that were not required of the EIR.

Effect of process on project design and alternatives: The public involvement process and consultation with local governments led to certain mitigation measures on the preferred alternative.

Multi-Agency Review: There was an extensive multi-agency review process as described above.

Public Involvement: Prior to the NEPA scoping process, the CEQA process involved an extensive public comment effort. ACTA distributed the August 1992, Draft EIR to 120 government agencies and interested parties. ACTA received 100 requests for additional copies during the public comment period. ACTA held six public hearings, which were attended by 163 people, of whom 47 provided verbal comments. ACTA announced the hearings through a number of means, including newspapers, direct mailing, radio and television public service announcements, flyers and door hangers. In addition to the formal hearings, ACTA held four community meetings. The 35 comment letters received during the scoping process came from: two state agencies, six regional agencies, three County of Los Angeles departments, eight local jurisdictions, eight private companies, and four individuals.

For the NEPA scoping process, the FHWA and FRA held a formal scoping meeting, which they advertised in seven local newspapers. They also notified public agencies and known interested parties through a direct mailing. In addition, they sent a direct mailing to five federal agencies and a general mailing to 465 addresses. The FHWA and FRA conducted afternoon and evening sessions for the scoping meeting. They gave attendees an information packet about the project and conducted a presentation to explain the project and the purpose of the meeting. Fifty-one people attended the two sessions combined. Six speakers provided comments at the sessions and 12 written comments were received. During the scoping period, the FHWA and FRA received 14 comment letters, including one from EPA, two local agencies, the Cities of Compton and Vernon, seven private companies, and two citizens. The agency letters are separate from the agency coordination and consultation letters discussed above. The commenters raised issues concerning: alternatives, accessibility, safety, air quality, noise and vibration, traffic and circulation, landscaping, and site-specific issues. During the comment period for the DEIS, FHWA and FRA held a public hearing with an afternoon session and an evening session. Approximately 90 people attended the two sessions combined. Thirty people spoke at the two sessions combined.

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