National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of proposed actions (projects) prior to making decisions. In general, the NEPA process entails public scoping.
- Identify the purpose of the project and why it is needed
- Identify the reasonable alternatives to satisfy the purpose
- Evaluate the social, economic and environmental impact of these alternatives
- Present this information to the public and other agencies for review and comment
- Use the information gathered to make an informed decision when selecting the best alternative to satisfy the transportation problem
Public input is an important of the process of analyzing and selecting alternatives. There are multiple opportunities for public input throughout the NEPA phase:
June 27, 2019 – Public scoping meeting
June 2020 – Presentation of preferred alternative(s) to be studied in environmental document
December 16, 2021 – Presentation of the Current RTSD Preliminary Preferred Alternative
- Summer or Fall 2023 (tentative) – Public hearing for draft environmental document
Subarea Plan / Corridor Enhancement Plan
In 2017, following completion of the Planning and Environmental Linkages Study, the Lincoln/Lancaster County Railroad Transportation Safety District and City of Lincoln decided that prior to any major transportation investments, the subarea should be analyzed more comprehensively so that any transportation changes would align with the future vision of the subarea. To determine this vision, a community-consensus built subarea planning process was undertaken. The subarea planning process analyzed the following:
- land uses;
- utilities and infrastructure;
- transportation routes (transit, rail, bicycles, pedestrians, and automobiles);
- market-supported economic development opportunities;
- parks and open space enhancement opportunities;
- aesthetic, urban design, market, and environmental conditions
Subarea & Corridor Enhancement Plan Goals
- Refine and Align Land Use and Zoning – Align land use and zoning regulations to allow for implementation of identified redevelopment and development opportunities
- Promote Economic Development – Identify key development and redevelopment opportunities for a variety of land uses within the subarea
- Enhance Cornhusker Highway – Enhance Cornhusker Highway’s streetscape to entice economic development and define the character and quality of the corridor
- Improve Mobility and Connectivity – Improve multi-modal mobility and connectivity across the rail corridor and throughout Northeast Lincoln for all modes of transportation
- Build Champions – Identify and build up champions to carry the Subarea Plan and Corridor Enhancement Plan forward into implementation
- Improve Safety – Eliminate or reduce the conflict points between trains, vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles
Public Scoping (NEPA)
Planning and Environmental Linkages
The 33rd and Cornhusker Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study addressed the dangerous at-grade railway crossings at North 33rd Street and Adams Street. The BNSF railway currently carries nearly 65 trains daily on the double-track mainline railroad through the subarea, resulting in at least 3.5 hours per day that each of the at-grade railroad crossings is blocked to vehicular traffic. Combined, these two crossings have one of the highest exposure ratings across Nebraska.
Through a systematic approach to address this major issue, the PEL Study generated preferred street configuration concepts that close the North 33rd Street and the Adams Street at-grade railway crossings. The study used impacts to the environment, traffic data and analysis, safety, mobility, connectivity, and public participation to analyze and evaluate alternatives.
The PEL Study followed federal guidelines and provides the framework to move forward with a more detailed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study and Preliminary Engineering (PE). More information about the PEL process can be found on the FHWA website.
Two public meetings were held as part of the PEL Study process in November 2015 and March 2016 to share information about the PEL Study, the findings and gather public input. Ultimately, the PEL Study report was finalized and approved and the RTSD board in June 2016.
Related: Project Newsletters