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Eastern Iowa Industrial Center Rail Project


Eastern Iowa Industrial Center Rail Project, Construction and Operation

Abstract


SUMMARY:  By petition filed on July 21, 2009, and an amendment filed on September 8, 2009, the City of Davenport seeks Board authorization to construct and operate an approximately 2.8-mile rail line in southern Eldridge, northern Davenport, and an unincorporated area of Scott County, Iowa.  The proposed project, known as the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center Rail Project, would provide freight rail service to the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center (EIIC), an industrial park located in the northeast quadrant of the Interstate 80 and Northwest Boulevard interchange.  The purpose of the proposed project is to provide a rail connection between the EIIC and the Eldridge Line of the Iowa Chicago & Eastern Railroad and to promote economic development in the area.

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the City of Davenport conducted a streamlined environmental review of the proposed rail project, and on March 17, 2008, released an Environmental Assessment (EA).  This EA addressed the environmental impacts that may result from the proposed project and concluded that construction of an approximately 2.8-mile rail line would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment.  Following a public comment period and a public hearing, which was held in Davenport, Iowa, on April 28, 2008, FHWA determined that the project would not have any significant impact on the human and natural environment in a “Finding of No Significant Impacts” dated July 8, 2008.

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) strongly encourages agencies to reduce paperwork and duplication of efforts, and one of the methods identified by CEQ to accomplish these goals is adopting the environmental documents prepared by other agencies.  Accordingly, pursuant to 40 CFR 1506.3, the Board may adopt FHWA’s EA.  The Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) carefully reviewed the EA and conducted an independent assessment of the proposed rail project.  Based on this review and assessment, OEA concluded that the EA adequately assesses the environmental impacts of the proposed action and meets the Board’s responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act.  OEA further concluded that no supplemental or additional environmental review is required.  Accordingly, in January 2010, OEA recommended that the Board adopt the EA.

PROJECT UPDATE:  Before the Board issued a decision regarding the rail line construction and operation proposal, the City of Davenport notified OEA of a change in the proposed rail alignment.  Similar to its original proposal, the modified alignment would consist of approximately 2.8-miles of new track.  However, engineers determined that the curve at the eastern end of the proposed line would need to be reduced in order to adequately handle the transport of large and extra-large cargo used to build wind turbines.  A reevaluation of the project, including an assessment of the proposed design change and its potential environmental impacts, resulted in a determination that no supplemental or additional environmental review is required.

The Board will consider OEA’s recommendations, as well as the complete environmental record, in making its final decision in this proceeding.

Links to the EA and the FHWA Decision are provided below:

March 17, 2008 Environmental Assessment.

July 8, 2008 Federal Highway Administration Decision