Federal Register Meeting Notice August 29 2011

[Federal Register: June 22, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 120)]
[Page 36613-36614]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Federal Highway Administration

Environmental Impact Statement; Nueces County, TX

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Intent (NOI).


SUMMARY: Pursuant to 40 CFR 1508.22 and 43 TAC Sec.  2.5(e)(2), the 
FHWA and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) are issuing 
this notice to advise the public that an environmental impact statement 
(EIS) will be prepared for the proposed United States (US) Highway 181 
Harbor Bridge replacement/State Highway (SH) 286 (Crosstown Expressway) 
improvement project in Nueces County, Texas. The project and study 
limits include the US 181 and Beach Avenue interchange on the north and 
the SH 286 and Morgan Avenue interchange on the south. Areas within the 
city of Corpus Christi are included in the study area. The project will 
be developed in compliance with Section 6002 of the Safe, Accountable, 
Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users 
(SAFETEA-LU) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Engineer, Federal Highway Administration--Texas Division, 300 East 8th 
Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone: 512-536-5960.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The US 181 Harbor Bridge project is listed 
in the Corpus Christi Metropolitan Planning Organization's Metropolitan 
Transportation Plan 2010-2035 (the long range transportation plan) as 
construction of a new bridge over the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. An 
NOI for this project was first published on May 20, 2005, for proposed 
improvements that included replacement of the existing Harbor Bridge 
and approaches where US 181 crosses the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, a 
roadway distance of approximately 2.25 miles. On March 20, 2007, a 
revised NOI was published to advise the public that the study limits 
described in the 2005 NOI had been expanded to accommodate added 
capacity that might have included managed lanes or various tolling 
strategies; the primary change was to the southern limit which would 
have extended the project along SH 286 to SH 358 (South Padre Island 
Drive). On November 3, 2010, the revised NOI published in 2007 was 
rescinded, via a notice in the Federal Register, because

[[Page 36614]]

of changes in the scope (managed toll lanes) and limits. The project 
limits have now been revised to eliminate the added capacity that would 
have included managed lanes and various tolling strategies and have 
been reduced on the south end back to SH 286 and Morgan Avenue. The new 
project limits are as follows: the northern limit is the US 181 and 
Beach Avenue interchange located north of the Corpus Christi Ship 
Channel but south of the Nueces Bay Causeway; the southern limit is SH 
286 between Morgan Avenue and Baldwin Boulevard; the eastern limit is 
the Interstate Highway (I)-37/U.S. 181 intersection with Shoreline 
Boulevard in the Corpus Christi central business district (CBD); and 
the western limit is the I-37 and Nueces Bay Boulevard interchange. The 
new project limits total approximately 4.5 miles in length from north 
to south along US 181 and SH 286 and approximately 2.1 miles in length 
from east to west along I-37.
    The proposed US 181 Harbor Bridge replacement is based on several 
needs: safety concerns, lack of capacity (need for additional travel 
lanes), connectivity to local roadways, poor level of service, and 
increasing traffic demand. In addition to these needs, the bridge's 
existing structure also has deficiencies, including high maintenance 
costs and navigational restrictions. The proposed improvements both to 
US 181/SH 286 and Harbor Bridge will address the structural 
deficiencies and navigational restrictions and improve safety, 
connectivity, and level of service in the study area.
    The purpose of the project is to correct these established needs 
identified above and to promote, enhance and spur economic development 
in the area. It is anticipated that additional larger ship traffic is 
expected at the Port of Corpus Christi. The impacts and benefits of 
such will also be analyzed in the indirect and cumulative impacts 
analyses for the subject project.
    Alternatives under consideration include (1) taking no action, and 
(2) Transportation System Management (TSM)/Transportation Demand 
Management, and (3) replacing the existing US 181 Harbor Bridge and 
approach roads with a facility that meets current highway design 
standards. A Feasibility Study completed in 2003 evaluated four build 
corridor alternatives, one along the existing alignment and three along 
new location alignments, as well as the No-build alternative. The 
Feasibility Study resulted in the identification of a recommended study 
corridor (new location alignment) for the bridge replacement component. 
All reasonable alternatives, that meet Purpose and Need of the project, 
including the alternatives developed in the Feasibility Study, will be 
identified and evaluated in the EIS, in addition to the No-build 
Alternative, based on input from Federal, state, and local agencies, as 
well as private organizations and concerned citizens.
    Impacts caused by the construction and operation of the proposed 
improvements would vary depending on the alternative alignment used. At 
this time, to the best of our knowledge, significant impacts are 
anticipated in and to the community; including but not limited to: 
impacts to residences and businesses, including displacement; impacts 
to public parkland; social and economic impacts, including impacts to 
minority and low-income communities; and impacts to historic properties 
including the bridge itself. Additional impacts could potentially 
include the following: transportation impacts (construction detours, 
construction traffic, and mobility improvement); air quality and noise 
impacts from construction equipment and operation of the roadway; 
impacts to threatened and endangered species; impacts to waters of the 
U.S. including wetlands; and potential indirect and cumulative impacts.
    A Coordination Plan will be prepared that addresses the project 
history, need and purpose, preliminary alternatives, and project 
schedule. A letter that describes the proposed action and a request for 
comments will be sent to appropriate Federal, state, and local 
agencies, and to private organizations and citizens who have previously 
expressed interest in the proposal. In conjunction with the Feasibility 
Study completed in June 2003, TxDOT developed a public involvement 
plan, sponsored three citizens' advisory committee (CAC) meetings, held 
two public meetings, and distributed two newsletters. Initial agency 
and public scoping meetings were held in June 2005 and May 2007. A new 
public involvement program will be developed that includes a project 
mailing list, project Web site, project newsletters, new agency and 
public scoping meetings, CAC and Technical Advisory Committee, and 
informal meetings with interested citizens and stakeholders. In 
addition, a public hearing will be held after the publication of the 
draft EIS. Public notice will be given of the time and place of the 
hearing. The draft EIS will be available for public and agency review 
and comment prior to the public hearing.
    A public and agency scoping meeting will be held at the TxDOT 
Corpus Christi District Office--Training Center, 1701 S. Padre Island 
Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78416, by TxDOT on August 9, 2011 to provide 
an opportunity for participating agencies, cooperating agencies, and 
the public to be involved in review and comment on the draft 
Coordination Plan, defining the need and purpose for the proposed 
project, determining the range of alternatives for consideration in the 
draft EIS, and establishing methodologies to evaluate alternatives. 
TxDOT will publish notice in general circulation newspapers in the 
project area at least 30 days prior to the meeting, and again 
approximately 10 days prior to the meeting.
    To ensure that the full range of issues related to this proposed 
action is addressed and all significant issues identified, comments and 
suggestions are invited from all interested parties. Comments or 
questions concerning this proposed action and the EIS should be 
directed to the FHWA at the address provided above.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205, 
Highway Research, Planning, and Construction. The regulations 
implementing Executive Order 12372, regarding intergovernmental 
consultation on Federal programs and activities, apply to this 

    Issued on: June 16, 2011.
Gregory S. Punske,
District Engineer, Austin, Texas.
[FR Doc. 2011-15577 Filed 6-21-11; 8:45 am]