The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in conjunction with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), a modal agency of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), is studying improvements to the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) Rail Station and the mainline of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) centered on the station. The NEC rail system serves as a major business and commuter route from Boston to Washington, D.C. The BWI Rail Station Improvements and Fourth Track Project would benefit Amtrak service along the entire NEC, in addition to the Washington, D.C. – Baltimore, Maryland segment.
The purpose of the project is to alleviate the current operational constraints posed by the existing track, interlockings, and station infrastructure along the nine-mile section of the NEC between the Grove Interlocking and Winans Interlocking, generally centered on the BWI Rail Station. The project would also reduce current and future rail congestion by accommodating the substantial intercity passenger rail ridership increases predicted in the project corridor over the next 20 years.
FRA, the federal lead agency, and MTA, the local project sponsor, jointly prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) and draft Section 4(f) Evaluation in April 2015 to determine potential environmental impacts of the fourth track and station improvements. The EA analyzes a nine-mile study corridor and the BWI Rail Station. FRA and MTA prepared the EA to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (42 USC § 4321). FRA developed the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) based on the information in the EA in compliance with NEPA, FRA’s Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (64 FR 28545, May 26, 1999), FRA’s Update to NEPA Implementing Procedures (78 FR 2713, January 14, 2013), and other related laws.
FRA signed the EA on April 21, 2015, and made the document, and associated technical reports available for public comment and review on April 27, 2015. MTA distributed copies of the EA to local libraries, federal and state agencies, and local governments. MTA posted the EA to the project webpage at http://mta.maryland.gov/bwi-amtrak-rail-improvement. The public comment period for the EA closed on June 3, 2015. FRA and MTA received no requests for a public hearing. FRA and MTA incorporated comments received on the EA into the FONSI which FRA signed and published in January 2016.
The environmental review process including the EA and FONSI for the project was completed in January 2016, and are posted below. If you have additional questions related to the project, please contact Brandon Bratcher, FRA Environmental Protection Specialist, at Brandon.Bratcher@dot.gov, or send your comments to:
Federal Railroad Administration
RPD-13: Environment and Corridor Planning Division
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
West Building, Mail Stop 20
Washington, DC 20590