Maryland Transit Administration (MTA)
- Assist with Alternatives Analysis and NEPA
- Regulatory Agency Coordination
- Mitigation Planning
Coastal Resources, Inc. (CRI) provided federal and state regulatory agency coordination and mitigation planning services to the 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 rail corridor is used by three rail operators, including Amtrak, CSX, and MARC commuter rail. 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 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 provided review of alternatives and documentation prepared for the regulatory agencies by the engineering and previous NEPA document team, and provided recommendations on additional information needed to satisfy alternative comparisons and avoidance and minimization requirements. CRI participated in regulatory agency coordination meetings and project coordination meetings with MTA and FRA.
Once avoidance and minimization alternatives requested by the agencies were investigated by the engineering team, CRI developed the project Alternatives Report documenting the alternatives analyses, avoidance and minimization efforts employed in the project alternatives, and potential mitigation opportunities to offset unavoidable wetland and waterway impacts. This document was provided to the agencies to facilitate their review of the project and NEPA documentation and ensure that there were no major project issues that would negatively impact project permitting in the future.
CRI conducted a mitigation site search in the impacted watersheds for 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. After obtaining property access permission, CRI conducted 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 were presented to the regulatory agencies and a Draft Compensatory Mitigation Plan was prepared.
CRI worked with the prime consultant contracted by MTA to update the draft EA document partially completed by the previous NEPA consultant team. CRI updated all natural resource sections to accurately depict existing natural resource conditions and evaluate and present potential project impacts and mitigation. CRI participated in the EA public meeting and assisted with review of the draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). CRI also participated in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to respond to comments on the EA and FONSI to address compliance with FAA regulations and allow FAA to adopt the project EA to document impacts to BWI airport property.