The City of West Memphis, Arkansas is proposing a construction project at the International Rail Port Logistics Park (IRPLP) in West Memphis, Arkansas. The construction improvements in this project include the upgrade of existing track in the IRPLP to support the handling of heavier rail carloads of manifest and unit trains and the construction of approximately 13,500 ft. of a new rail lead to the base of the St. Francis levee. These improvements will facilitate the connection to and construction of a new transload facility on private lands through an agreement with the City of West Memphis and a private developer that will add the capability for handling bulk commodities from truck and rail to the Mississippi navigational transportation system. The City of West Memphis currently operates a port in this system and the private developer intends to construct a port on the Mississippi River as well.
On January 31, 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) in the Federal Register for funds appropriated under the provisions of the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations, 2012 (Division B of the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012, regarding National Infrastructure Investments). The grant program under the act is referred to as “FY 2012 TIGER Discretionary Grants,” or “TIGER Discretionary Grants.” In response, the City of West Memphis submitted an application for the IRPLP Project on March 18, 2012. The USDOT reviewed the Grantee’s application for eligibility, and it was evaluated in accordance with the criteria outlined in the NOFA. On the basis of this evaluation, the USDOT Secretary of Transportation selected the City of West Memphis for an award through a cooperative agreement with the FRA for $10,953,244 for the Project. This EA evaluates the projects included in the TIGER Grant for activities west of the levee, as the IRPLP Project.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) was the lead Federal agency for the environmental review in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, (NEPA). Environmental reviews were conducted in accordance with NEPA, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321 et. seq.; its implementing regulation, 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1500-1508; and the FRA Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (64 Federal Register [FR] 28545 [May 26, 1999] and 78 FR 2713 [January 14, 2013]).
FRA completed the NEPA process by issuing a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on September 15th, 2014 which summarized the potential effects on physical, biological and human resources that could occur as a result of the action. The FONSI also addressed public comments and outlines strategies and mitigation measures to minimize potential impacts of the project.