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Environmental Resources

Environmental Resources

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Published by Tim Richardson
Environmental Resources
Environmental Resources

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Published by: Tim Richardson on Sep 05, 2013
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 Purple Line Final Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation 4-1
Chapter 4.0
Environmental Resources,Impacts, and Mitigation
Chapter 4.0 assesses the impacts of the Preferred Alternative and the No Build Alternative upon thebuilt and natural environment within the Purple Line study area. The No Build Alternative is thefuture condition of transportation facilities and services in 2040 within the corridor if the Purple Lineis not implemented. The Preferred Alternative is the future of transportation facilities and services in2040 within the corridor if the Purple Line is implemented.The Preferred Alternative and the No Build Alternative assume the implementation of the fundedtransportation improvement projects, excluding the Purple Line in the No Build Alternative, that areincluded in the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board’s (TPB)
Financially Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan
(CLRP) for implementation by 2040 within the PurpleLine corridor. The No Build Alternative provides the basis against which the Preferred Alternative iscompared.A consolidated discussion of the effects of the No Build Alternative is presented in Section 4.1.2. Thefindings in this discussion are based on the information available about the planned projects at thetime of this writing. Detailed assessment of the effects of the No Build Alternative projects will be theresponsibility of each project sponsor at the time each project design is developed sufficiently tocomplete such an assessment. MTA compared the effects of the No Build and Preferred Alternativeswhere reasonably feasible. Additional discussion of the No Build Alternative is presented in Sections4.10 and 4.17 in which quantitative comparisons of air quality effects and energy use are made by MTA.
4.1
 
Overview and Summary of Effects
Chapter 4.0 assesses long-term operational impactsand short-term construction-related impacts.Sections 4.2 through 4.19 describe these effects toindividual resources. Each section identifies theregulatory context and methodologies for assess-ment of a resource and describes the effects of thePreferred Alternative on the resource within a study area appropriate to that resource.Definitions of the study area vary according to theenvironmental resource evaluated. For someimpacts, the study area extends a specified distancefrom the centerline (e.g., 500 feet), while for othersthe study area is confined to the project’s limit of disturbance (LOD). The LOD is the boundary within which construction, materials storage,grading, landscaping, and related activities wouldoccur.Each section also describes the work the MarylandTransit Administration (MTA) has done to avoid orminimize impacts, MTA’s commitments to furtherminimize impacts where possible as the projectadvances, and its commitments to mitigate impacts.Section 4.20 provides a summary of these commit-ments. Section 4.21 describes the irreversible andirretrievable commitment of resources, and Sec-tion 4.22 lists anticipated permits and approvalsneeded to build and operate the PreferredAlternative.
 
4.0 Environmental Resources, Impacts, and Mitigation August 20134-2 Purple Line Final Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation
4.1.1
 
No Build Alternative
The No Build Alternative is the future condition of transportation facilities and services in 2040 withinthe corridor if the Purple Line is not implemented;it provides the basis against which the PreferredAlternative is compared. While the PreferredAlternative assumes the implementation of thefunded transportation improvement projectsincluded in the National Capital Region Transpor-tation Planning Board’s CLRP for implementationby 2040 within the Purple Line corridor, the NoBuild Alternative assumes all the projects in theCLRP except the Purple Line. The list of No BuildAlternative projects has been updated since thepublication of the Alternatives Analysis/DraftEnvironmental Impact Statement (AA/DEIS) in2008. Section 2.3.1 provides details on the 12projects included in the No Build Alternative,including five transit projects, three roadway projects, three bicycle-pedestrian projects, and anew public parking facility as part of a mixed-usedevelopment project.
4.1.2
 
Impacts of No Build Alternative
The following is a summary assessment of thepotential effects of the No Build Alternative projectson the natural and built environment. The sponsorsof these projects will be responsible for addressingimpacts and providing mitigation as appropriate.
 Transportation 
The transportation projects in the No BuildAlternative would provide some transportationsystem benefits, including benefits for public transitusers from the two transit center projects and theenhanced bus projects. Also, the No Build Alterna-tive would include improvements to the trail systemwithin the corridor; improve traffic operations onUS 1, Kenilworth Avenue, and Dale Drive; andincrease the parking inventory in downtownBethesda. In the No Build Alternative, however,MTA determined through quantitative analysis thatoverall traffic volumes, roadway congestion, anddelays would continue to increase, as would transittravel times (see Chapter 3.0). Therefore, the NoBuild Alternative would not provide faster, moredirect and reliable east-west transit service in thecorridor; it would not connect major activity centers, better connect to Metrorail services, orimprove connectivity to the communities betweenthe Metrorail lines.
Land Use, Public Policy and Zoning, Economics 
The projects in the No Build Alternative wouldgenerate some short-term economic activity. Thetransit center projects would complement transit-oriented development initiatives in downtownSilver Spring and the Takoma Park/Langley Park area. Also, the improvements to US 1 would com-plement the planned development of the EastCampus of the University of Maryland (UMD). Inthe absence of the Preferred Alternative, however,development would not capitalize fully upon thetransportation-land use interrelationships built intostate, regional, and local plans that were developedbased on an assumption that the PreferredAlternative would be implemented. Furthermore,the corridor and region would not be likely torealize the economic development potential that itcould under the Preferred Alternative.
Neighborhoods and Community Facilities 
The No Build Alternative projects are not antici-pated to affect neighborhood cohesion andcommunity facilities as the proposed improvementsto existing transit, roadway and pedestrian facilitiesare intended to improve access and connectivity.
The following terms are used frequently inthis FEIS:
Adverse:
A negative or unfavorablecondition.
Avoidance:
The act of avoiding impacts to,or keeping away from, something orsomeone.
Minimization:
Measures taken to reducethe severity of adverse impacts.
Mitigation:
Measures taken to alleviateadverse impacts that remain afterminimization.
 
August 2013 4.0 Environmental Resources, Impacts, and MitigationPurple Line Final Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation 4-3
Property Acquisition and Displacements 
The sponsors of the No Build Alternative projectsmay seek to acquire small strips of land alongsideexisting transit, roadway and pedestrian facilities toimplement some planned improvements, such assidewalks, trails, and roadway widening if insuf-ficient land area occurs within existing publicrights-of-way. Larger site development projectssuch as Takoma/Langley Transit Center and theBethesda Lot 31 Parking garage may requirerelocation of existing users of the affectedproperties. However, where reasonably feasible,project sponsors would design planned facilities toavoid or minimize property acquisition anddisplacements by using existing public rights-of-way.
Parks, Recreational Land, Open Space, Historic and Archeological Properties 
Where reasonably feasible, project sponsors of NoBuild Alternative projects would design plannedfacilities to avoid or minimize acquisition of landwithin parks, recreational land, open space, andhistoric and archeological properties by usingexisting public rights-of-way. When land acquisi-tion cannot be avoided, the sponsors may seek toacquire small strips of land alongside existingtransit, roadway and pedestrian facilities toimplement some planned improvements, such assidewalks, trails, and roadway widening. Dis-placement of parks, recreational land, open space,and historic properties is unlikely. The No BuildAlternative projects have potential for affectingarcheological properties if land disturbance occursoutside existing developed transportation facilities.
Visual Resources 
No Build Alternative projects such as the plannedbus enhancements, sidewalk and trail improve-ments introduce minimal facility elements (busrouting and pedestrian infrastructure), and areunlikely to substantially change the visual environ-ment in which they are implemented. Largerfacilities such as the Takoma/Langley TransitCenter and Silver Spring Transit Center will changethe localized visual environment by introducingtransportation-focused structures andinfrastructure.
Air Quality, Noise and Vibration 
MTA determined through quantitative air quality analyses that by 2040, the No Build Alternative ispredicted to cause slightly higher mesoscale pollu-tant levels compared to the Preferred Alternativewithin the study area. MTA’s microscale analysis of air quality determined that no violations of theNational Ambient Air Quality Standards are pre-dicted for either the Preferred Alternative or the NoBuild Alternative (see Section 4.10).No Build Alternative projects such as the Takoma/Langley Transit Center, the Silver Spring TransitCenter, and the Bethesda Lot 31 Parking Garage,may affect localized noise and vibration levels by changing bus and traffic operations on and nearexisting roadways.
Habitat and Wildlife, Water Resources, Topography,Geology and Soils 
The No Build Alternative projects are plannedprimarily on sites already in transportation use,thereby minimizing impacts to the natural environ-ment. Nonetheless, the No Build Alternativepotentially would result in some impacts. Right-of-way acquisition, if needed, could remove portionsof existing wildlife habitat and/or encroach uponwetlands and waterways. Stormwater run-off couldbe caused by new impervious surfaces and intro-duce transportation-related pollutants to receivingwaterways. As most No Build Alternative projectsinvolve surface improvements, such as sidewalk andbus service enhancements, substantial changes totopography, geology and soils are not expected tooccur. Larger projects, such as the Silver SpringTransit Center and Bethesda Lot 31 Parking Garagewill require deeper excavations and considerablegrading, thereby resulting in a localized change intopography.
Hazardous Materials 
Residual contaminants potentially exist alongportions of the study area in underlying soilsresulting from former industrial sites, existing andformer gas service stations, and railroad yards. Thesponsors of the No Build Alternative projects havethe potential to encounter these materials and willneed to establish procedures for identifying and

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