The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) is proposing to construct a passenger rail equipment layover facility in Brunswick, Maine to support the operation and expansion of Amtrak Downeaster passenger rail service. The proposed facility would consist of a main building, adjoining crew building and connecting tracks at the site of the Brunswick freight rail yard located between Church Road and Stanwood Street on property now owned by NNEPRA. The proposed site is approximately 0.6 miles west of Brunswick Station, which is the eastern terminus of Amtrak Downeaster service. The layover facility is intended to accommodate the overnight storage of a maximum of three (3) Amtrak diesel locomotive-powered passenger train sets used for the Amtrak Downeaster service.
NNEPRA is funding all planning and design work for the proposed layover facility. However, NNEPRA intends to construct the proposed facility using a combination of state and federal funds, including state multi-modal and bond funds, and approximately $6 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program grant funds from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is the lead Federal agency preparing this Environmental Assessment (EA) pursuant the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) because NNEPRA intends to request transfer of the CMAQ grant funds from FHWA to the FRA for administration.
The EA describes the purpose and need for the project and evaluates the potential effects on physical, biological and human resources that could occur as a result of the proposed action. The EA considers two alternatives: a No Build Alternative; and the Build Alternative, which would construct a layover facility at the Brunswick rail yard. NNEPRA initially considered a total of six locations for a layover facility. All except the Brunswick rail yard (Brunswick West) were eliminated from consideration as a Build Alternative in the EA because they did not adequately address the project’s purpose and need with respect to having the operational or functional characteristics (size, topography, location) necessary to support the facility, or because they would create additional adverse environmental and cost impacts.
The EA has been prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, (NEPA), as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321 et. seq.; its implementing regulation, 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1500-1508; and the FRA’s Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts, 64 FR 28545 (May 26, 1999).
The EA is available for public review and comment through October 13, 2013 at the Curtis Library and the Office of the Town Manager in Brunswick, ME. It is also available at the NNEPRA office in Portland, ME, as well as on the NNEPRA website. A Public Hearing is scheduled for September 26, 2013 at the Brunswick Town Council Chambers, Station Avenue, Brunswick, ME from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.