Reference

John Newton, 410-767-3769

Maryland Transit Administration

Project Highlights

  • Assist with Alternatives Analysis and NEPA
  • Regulatory Agency Coordination
  • Permitting
  • Mitigation Planning

Project Details

Coastal Resources, Inc. (CRI) is currently providing federal and state regulatory agency coordination and mitigation planning services to the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) in support of the NEPA planning process for the BWI Station Improvements and Fourth Track Project within the Maryland portion of the Northeast Corridor (NEC).  The project, located between the Odenton and Halethorpe stations, involves the addition of a fourth track through the entire project length and improvements to the BWI Station, including a new platform and station building.  The project corridor, and particularly the area surrounding the BWI station, contains substantial areas of sensitive resources, including streams, wetlands, state-designated wetlands of special state concern (WSSC), and important cultural resources.  During interagency coordination for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers raised concerns regarding impacts to jurisdictional waters of the U.S. and requested additional information and clarification on the analysis of alternatives and avoidance, minimization, and mitigation planning completed for the project.

CRI has extensive experience in wetland and waterway permitting in the state of Maryland and was contracted to work with MTA and Federal Rail Administration (FRA) to develop a proactive approach to address agency concerns and information requests.  CRI is currently providing review of alternatives and documentation prepared for the regulatory agencies by the engineering and NEPA document team, and providing recommendations on additional information needed to satisfy alternative comparisons and avoidance and minimization requirements.  CRI is participating in regulatory agency coordination meetings and project coordination meetings with MTA and FRA as requested.

Once avoidance and minimization alternatives requested by the agencies are investigated, CRI is responsible for developing an Avoidance, Minimization, and Mitigation Memorandum documenting the alternatives analyses, avoidance and minimization efforts employed in the current project alternatives, and potential mitigation opportunities to offset unavoidable wetland and waterway impacts.  This document will be provided to the agencies to facilitate their review of the project and NEPA documentation and ensure that there are no major project issues that would negatively impact project permitting in the future.

CRI is also responsible for mitigation planning for the project.  CRI conducted a mitigation site search in the watersheds impacted by the project to identify potential wetland creation/restoration and stream restoration opportunities.  A desktop review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPAs) Watershed Resources Registry (WRR), existing watershed assessment reports, and a GIS overlay was initiated to identify potential sites.  Windshield surveys were then conducted to verify land use and landscape position, and potentially viable stream and wetland sites were compiled into a list of sites recommended for further study.  A technical memorandum detailing site search methods and preliminary results was prepared and submitted to MTA and FRA for review.  CRI then developed a list of property owner contacts and facilitated the property owner mailings requesting access permission.  Once access is granted, CRI will conduct onsite reviews to assess potential hydrologic sources, estimated depth to groundwater, soils, infrastructure conflicts, access, and other parameters to rank sites in order of technical feasibility and functional benefits.  The top ranked sites will be presented to the regulatory agencies for review, comment, and to help guide the final ranking of sites.  A draft compensatory mitigation plan will then be prepared and submitted for agency review and concurrence.