The August 2015 Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Kankakee River Bridge and Track Improvements Project an important component of the Chicago-St. Louis High Speed Rail (HSR) Program, the Kankakee River Bridge and Track Improvements Project (Project); approved by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on April 5, 2016, evaluated the construction of a second track in a Supplemental EA along the mainline service of the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) from north of East Kankakee River Drive (milepost [MP] 51.88) to south of North 1stStreet (MP 53.19) in the City of Wilmington, Will County, Illinois (map).
The 2016 Project components include: track, switches, and signals, and elements of at-grade crossing protection systems. The Project also includes the addition of a second mainline track, two railroad over river bridge replacements (Kankakee River Bridge and Forked Creek Bridge), one railroad over local street bridge replacement (Water Street Bridge), and improvements to the North Kankakee Street grade crossing approach to eliminate substandard stopping sight distances at the bridge and provide a safe pedestrian sidewalk at the North Kankakee Street grade crossing.
No significant impacts to community, cultural, or natural resources would occur. Potential impacts include: acquisition of approximately 4.35 acres of additional right-of-way (ROW), 1.08 acres of temporary easements with displacement of storage units from a self-storage facility, and 8.97 acres of private, residential property that will be isolated by a private crossing closure; a visual change resulting from vegetation loss and construction of retaining walls at North Kankakee Street; permanent impacts to 0.41 acre of wetland, and temporary impact to 0.18 acre of wetland; construction-related impact at the Kankakee River, Forked Creek, Water Street, and North Kankakee Street; and impacts to the habitat of federally and state protected species.
The Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) has been prepared and approved by the FRA Administrator on June 27, 2016; in accordance with FRA’s Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts and NEPA by the FRA’s Office of Railroad Policy and Development, with assistance from FRA’s Office of Chief Counsel.
The Project will have no foreseeable significant impact on the quality of the human or natural environment provided it is implemented in accordance with the commitments identified in the FONSI as prepared. As the Project sponsor, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is responsible for ensuring all environmental commitments identified in the FONSI are fully implemented. The EA provides sufficient evidence and analysis for FRA to determine that an environmental impact statement is not required for the Project as presented.