U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Transit Administration
Connecticut (Rail Operations) New Jersey, and New York
One Bowling Green
New York, NY 10004-1415
October 5, 2009
Mr. Steven H. Santoro
Assistant Executive Director
Capital Planning and Programs
New Jersey Transit Corporation
One Penn Plaza East
Newark, N.J. 07205-2204
Subject: Pennsauken Junction Transit Center and Park and Ride Project - Finding-of-No-Significant Impact
Dear Mr. Santoro:
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has completed its review of the Environmental Assessment and Sectio4(f) Evaluation (EA) for the Pennsauken Junction Transit Center and Park and Ride Project. Based on our review, the FTA has issued the enclosed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). In addition, we concur with the Section 4(f) evaluation and made a de minimis finding. Enclosed please find the signed FONSI and Section 4(f) finding.
As required under the FTA's National Environmental policy Act implementing regulations, upon issuance of a FONSI an applicant shall comply with the following paragraph and 23 CFT 771.121(b): "After a FONSI has been made by the Administration, a notice of availability of the FONSI shall be sent by the applicant to the affected units of Federal, State and local government and the document shall be available from the applicant and the Administration upon request by the public. Notice shall also be sent to the State intergovernmental review contacts established under Executive Order 12372." Please provide a notice of availability to the appropriate parties, including the agencies that commented on the EA, including the Environmental Protection Agency.
The project must be carried out in accordance with the mitigations discussed in the EA, all conditions specified in the associated permits, and in the enclosed FONSI. I there are any design changes to the project, the FTA must be notified before the changes are implemented to determine the need for possible additional environmental studies.
Should you have any questions, please contact Donald C. Burns, AICP at (212) 668-2203.
Anthony G. Carr
Deputy Regional Administrator
R. Roberts, NJT
N. Danzig, FTA
D. Burns, FTA
Project: Pennsauken Junction Transit Center and Park and Ride
Applicant: New Jersey Transit
Project Location: Pennsauken Township, Camden County, New Jersey
The New Jersey Transit (NJTRANSIT) proposes to construct the Pennsauken Junction Transit Center and Park and Ride, a commuter rail transfer station in the Township of Pennsauken, Camden County, New Jersey. Based on the Pennsauken Junction Transit Center and Park and Ride RiverLINE (Light Rail) and Atlantic City Rail Line Environmental Assessment dated August 21, 2009 (the EA) prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. Section 4321 et seq.) and Federal Transit Administration's implementing regulations (23 CFR Part 771), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) finds, in accordance with 23 CFR Section 771.121, that the Pennsauken Junction Transit Center and Park and Ride (hereinafter referred to as the Project or Proposed Action), will result in no significant impact on the environment.
The EA included a Section 106 analysis and an evaluation pursuant to Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966, codified at U.S.C. 303, which resulted in a "de minimis" impact recommendation.
The Project consists of the construction of a new rail transit center, including two new interconnected stations, a single, 200-foot long, floor-level platform with a 60-foot long canopy along the RiverLINE, two (2) 300-foot long, high-level, side platforms with 100-foot long canopies along the Atlantic City Rail Line (A.C.R.L.), and a new 283 space commuter parking lot. An elevator and stair tower will connect the two stations.
The Project is located at the crossing of the NJ TRANSIT RiverLINE light rail line and A.C.R.L. commuter rail line, at the corner of Derousse and South Zimmerman Avenues. The Project site is bound by Derousse Avenue to the northeast; the RiverLINE railroad to the northwest; and the A.C.R.L. to the southwest.
As the sponsor for the Project, and commuter rail authority for the State of New Jersey NJTRANSIT is responsible for the programming and funding, as well as maintenance and upkeep of the system. Construction of the new rail transit center in Pennsauken will allow transfers between the A.C.R.L., which provides service between Philadelphia, PA and Atlantic City, NJ, and the RiverLINE, which provides service between Trenton, NJ and Camden, NJ. With the new transit center, the A.C.R.L. and RiverLINE will continue to operate as they currently do upon the completion of the Project.
Currently, the two nearest stops to the Project site along the RiverLINE are the Pennsauken/Route 73 Station, located approximately 2.75-miles north, and the 36th Street Station, located approximately 1.5-miles south. The two nearest stops along the A.C.R.L. are the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, approximately 10 miles west, and the Cherry Hill Station in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, which is approximately 4.5 miles east.
The Project includes Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant lighting, access ramps, signage, and communication systems. These accessibility improvements and amenities will increase customer convenience and comfort while providing safe access to platforms and efficient boarding/de-boarding. The proposed plans allow for full accessibility to the station in compliance with ADA requirements.
The station site currently consists of grade separated rights-of-way for the grade level RiverLINE and elevated A.C.R.L. The site for the proposed parking area consists of a weeded lawn that is owned and maintained by Hess Corporation and Conrail with some peripheral brush and trees in the southeast corner of the parcel. No facilities, platforms, or parking areas currently exist within the Project site. The current A.C.R.L. schedule provides 14 to 16 trains each way per day, and the current RiverLINE schedule has service every 15 minutes during peak periods, and every 30 minutes offpeak, in each direction.
On the A.C.R.L., the Project is located in Conrail-owned territory referred to as the Delair Branch, starting at milepost 2.7 and running two miles south to the Pemberton Branch. NJ TRANSIT and Conrail share trackage rights in this area. Conrail operates on Track 2 (referred to as the Hatch Industrial Track or "Hatch IT"), and allows NJ TRANSIT, under the terms of an existing, negotiated agreement, to operate passenger service on Track 1. The Project requires both Conrail and NJ TRANSIT to be able to operate through the area in a timely and unobstructed fashion. The Project will change the terms of the existing operating agreement between NJ TRANSIT and Conrail, allowing NJ TRANSIT to operate on both Track 1 and the Hatch IT while, at the same time, allowing Conrail to continue servicing its existing clients and protecting the ability to solicit and service future clients along the Hatch IT. As is the case with the existing operating agreement between NJ TRANSIT and Conrail, the future revised agreement will ensure operating rights for both parties in perpetuity. No track realignments are required, but signal and interlocking modifications will be necessary along the A.C.R.L. to complete the Project.
Joint operation along the Delair Branch will be accomplished by improving the ability to cross over between Track 1 and the Hatch IT through the installation of two new crossover tracks and by remotely controlling those crossovers and one existing switch. These elements will be incorporated in a new interlocking that will be added to the signal system to expedite train movements of both Conrail and NJ TRANSIT on the shared tracks and conform to Federal Railroad Administration regulations. The improvements to the signal system will require not more than two new signal bungalows and not more than four new 4-inch conduits, in addition to the crossover tracks. None of these track or signal related Project elements will result in a negative environmental impact as they all represent improvements and/or maintenance activities undertaken within the existing rail right-of-way.
The purpose of the Project is to provide a transfer point between NJ TRANSIT's southern New Jersey commuter and light rail lines (the A.C.R.L. and the RiverLINE). Currently, passengers cannot transfer between the two lines as there is no physical connection between them. This would enable residents of southern New Jersey to reach multiple northern New Jersey locations, as well as New York City, by utilizing one transit system with one set of fare policies, fulfilling the long-term goal of connecting all of the rail lines on NJ TRANSIT's system. The goals of the Project are to increase use of, and access to, mass transit, reduce regional automobile travel, reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and provide for an integrated cost-effective transit system linking the local area to major employment and recreational destinations.
The need for the project is to increase the accessibility of transit service and improve commuting time. The objective of the Project is to reduce commuting times that currently exceed 40 to 100 minutes by between 15 and 33 %, depending upon the destination, compared to the service which is presently available. Additional ridership forecast information is contained in Appendix H of the EA.
The EA reviewed two alternatives, the Proposed Action described above and the "No-Build" Alternative. The Proposed Action consists of the construction of a new rail transit center consisting of two new interconnected stations on to be constructed on two undeveloped properties Block 1005, Lots 1 and 2; Block 7001, Lot 1; and Block 7004, Lots 1 and 4 in the Township of Pennsauken. refer to the Site Map and Project Area Map in Attachment A.. The properties are located adjacent to the rail right-of-way crossings of the RiverLine, which is at-grade, and A.C.R.L., which is above grade. The elements of the Proposed Action include:
The "no build" option would not construct the transit center and parking lot to connect the RiverLINE and A.C.R.L. The "no build" option is contrary to the stated purpose and need of the Project. There would be no connection to the overall rail transit network. Local residents would not be able to reduce their commute times by 15 to 33 %. Local residents would not be able to increase mass transit use, reduce automobile travel, and provide an integrated, cost-effective transit system by linking the RiverLINE with the A.C.R.L. Instead, NJRANSIT would continue to maintain the A.C.R.L. and RiverLINE and either shuttle or identify another means to connect passengers between the two lines.
Notice of availability for this EA was published in the Courier Post, a newspaper in Cherry Hill, N.J. on August 21, 2009 and the 30-day review period closed on September 21, 2009. During the public comment period five (5) letters of support were received: 1) Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders, 2) the Township of Pennsauken, 3) the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey, 4) U.S. Congressman, 5) the Honorable Robert Andrews, and the South Jersey Transit Advisory Committee.
In addition, two correspondences were received from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
No negative comments regarding the Project were received. See Attachment B of this FONSI for copies of the correspondence.
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, has included the Pennsauken Junction Transit Center and Park and Ride in its list of approved American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects (STIP #T55).
Local agencies and interested parties have been consulted as part of the Project scoping process. NJ TRANSIT has been in contact with the Township of Pennsauken to involve them in the design process and obtain their concurrence with the Project design. A meeting was held on February 19, 2009 with representatives of Pennsauken Township to discuss the Project design at the conceptual stage. As stated in the Township's March 4, 2009, letter to NJ TRANSIT, the Township of Pennsauken supports the proposed transit center Project (refer to EA Appendix B, Correspondence).
An additional meeting was held on April 9, 2009 between NJ TRANSIT representatives and the Pennsauken Mayor, Township Attorney, Administrator and Engineer. The Township reaffirmed its support of the Project at the meeting. The April 9th meeting provided Township officials the opportunity to further discuss the Project. The discussion related primarily to questions relative to anticipated traffic, noise, grade crossings, and drainage impacts, all of which were discussed during the meeting and are addressed in the EA document.
Consultation and communication between NJ TRANSIT representatives and Pennsauken Township officials is ongoing and will include coordination regarding the final design for the Project. NJ TRANSIT held an informational meeting for members of the public on August 25, 2009.
Conrail has also been consulted to obtain its support for the Project and to develop an operating agreement between NJ TRANSIT and Conrail for a transit center along the A.C.R.L. A portion of the proposed transit center will be located within the Conrail right-of-way. NJ TRANSIT representatives met with Conrail representatives on March 5, 2009 regarding the Project. Conrail endorsed the Project in an April 13, 2009 letter (refer to EA Appendix B, Correspondence).
NJTRANSIT will implement the mitigation measures described in the EA and in this FONSI. The FTA will require in any grant documents for the Project that it be built in a manner consistent with that described in the EA and that all committed mitigation be implemented in accordance with the EA and this FONSI. FTA will require NJTRANSIT to periodically submit written reports on its progress in implementing the mitigation commitments. FTA will monitor this progress through quarterly reviews of the project's progress. The Measures to Minimize Harm are fully described in the EA and are summarized in Attachment C.
In consultation with the SHPO, FTA determined that, based on the Cultural Resource Investigation report, the proposed Pennsauken Junction Transit Station will not adversely affect any historic resources provided the following conditions are met:
These conditions are delineated in more detail in the SHPO March 13, 2009 concurrence letter provided in Attachment C.
For archaeological resources, SHPO deemed the Cultural Resources Investigation report acceptable in the March 13, 2009 and confirmed that no further effort to identify archaeological properties was warranted. In the event that any archaeological resources are identified during construction, NJTRANSIT will contact and coordinate with FTA and SHPO to assess the extent of archaeological investigations based on that coordination.
FTA's approval of the Pennsauken Junction Transit Center and Park and Ride Project must comply with Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966, codified at 49 U.S.C. 303. Investigations for this EA identified two (2) historic districts in the area of potential effects of the Proposed Action. The two historic districts are:
Under Section 774.5 (b), the Section 4(f) de minimis coordination requirements for historic properties are: "(i) The consulting parties identified in accordance with 36 CFR part 800 must be consulted; and (ii) The Administration must receive written concurrence from the pertinent State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) or Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO), and from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) if participating in the consultation process, in a finding of "no adverse effect" or "no historic properties affected" in accordance with 36 CFR part 800. The Administration shall inform these officials of its intent to make a de minimis impact determination based on their concurrence in the finding of "no adverse effect" or "no historic properties affected." (iii) Public notice and comment, beyond that required by 36 CFR part 800, is not required."
The following supporting documents are located in Attachment B:
This coordination meets the requirements of 23 C.F.R. Section 774.5 (b).
The NJTRANSIT recommended the Proposed Action for consideration of Section 4(f) de minimis impact finding. Based upon the information presented in the EA and coordination with NJ SHPO, the proper mitigation measures and coordination have been undertaken. Therefore, the FTA has determined that the Project will have no adverse effect on the two Historic Districts.
It is recommended that FTA approve the de minimis Section 4(f) request by NJTRANSIT since the impacts are minimal based upon the coordination and supporting documentation.
Based upon the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) review of the project description and supporting documentation on the Proposed Action as described in the EA, it is FTA's determination that the de minimis Section 4(f) requirements set forth in 23 C.F.R. Section 774. 3(b) have been met and that sufficient documentation exists to demonstrate that the impacts are de minimis.
FTA has reviewed the Pennsauken Junction Transit Center and Park and Ride EA and finds that the Proposed Action will have no significant impact on the environment.
Anthony G. Carr
Deputy Regional Administrator, Region II
Federal Transit Administration
Attachment A - Site Map and Project Area Map
Attachment B - Correspondence
Attachment C - Measures to Minimize Harm
Pleas refer to Attachment A: Site Map and Project Area Map (PDF) for detailed map in visual format
Please refer to Attachment B: Correspondence (PDF)
Please refer to Attachment C: Measures to Minimize Harm (PDF)
The mitigation measures and other features of the Project that reduce adverse impacts, to which Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and New Jersey Transit (NJ TRANSIT) committed in the Pennsauken Junction Transit Center and Park and Ride RiverLINE and Atlantic City Rail Line Environmental Assessment (EA) are summarized in the following table. This summary is provided in the Finding-of-no-Significant-Impact (FONSI) to facilitate the monitoring of the implementation of the mitigation measures. However, the EA provides the full description of all mitigation measures that are included in the Project. FTA, with the assistance of the FTA project management oversight contractor, will oversee NJ TRANSIT's program for monitoring environmental compliance, through quarterly review meetings. NJ TRANSIT will report construction environmental compliance in the quarterly project reports.
NJ TRANSIT is prohibited from eliminating or altering any of the mitigation commitments identified in the EA for the Project without the express written approval by FTA. In addition, any change to the Project that may involve new or changed environmental or community impacts not considered in the EA must be reviewed in accordance with FTA environmental procedures (23 CFR Part 771.130). NJ TRANSIT will immediately notify FTA of any proposed change to the Project that differs in any way from what the EA states. FTA will determine the appropriate level of environmental review for the proposed change (i.e., a written re-evaluation of the EA, an environmental assessment of the change, or a supplemental environmental impact statement), and the NEPA process for this supplemental environmental review will conclude with a separate NEPA determination, or, if necessary, with an amendment of this FONSI.
During final design, NJ TRANSIT will provide FTA with a detailed outline of environmental commitments and any other procedures to be implemented during the construction phase to protect sensitive resources that may be affected during construction. The outline will discuss how the initial condition of the resource shall be assessed, where applicable; how construction work will actually be implemented to avoid or minimize impacts; and how environmental performance will be monitored during construction. It will provide an effective means for disseminating appropriate current information to the public and other interested parties.
The following commitments have been made by NJ TRANSIT through the EA and FONSI:
These conditions are delineated in more detail in the SHPO March 13, 2009 concurrence letter provided in EA Appendix B, Correspondence.
The SHPO deemed the Cultural Resources Investigation report acceptable on March 13, 2009 (refer to EA Appendix B, Correspondence) and confirmed that no further effort to identify archaeological properties was warranted. In the event that any archaeological resources are identified during the construction phase of the Project, NJTRANSIT will immediately contact FTA and SHPO. Based on coordination with FTA and SHPO an archaeological investigation would be conducted and recommendations made for further assessment as appropriate.