Downtown Natomas Airport Environmental Impact Meeting Report March 17th, 2009
Presentation/Open House Report by Marcia Johnston, RailPAC Director
Sacramento Amtrak Station Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Introduction: Mike Wiley, General Manager, Sacramento Regional Transit
Presenter: Jim Heck, Consultant, HDR Engineering
The Environmental Impact Report [EIR] is a report that documents the potential impacts of a proposed project.
Under Federal and State laws, certain proposed projects require that formal environmental studies be conducted and documented. The MOS-1 Draft EIR was prepared by HDR Engineering pursuant to the State’s California Environmental Quality Act [CEQA]. This open house was to discuss the project and Draft EIR re: the Downtown Natomas Airport light rail project [“DNA” Project], Phase I to Richards Boulevard.
Mike Wiley gave the introduction thanking the large crowd for attending. Mike stated that the DNA light rail line has been a vision since the 1980’s. In 2001, an analysis [“Alternative Analysis Study”] was completed that adopted the light rail transit as the preferred alternative [“LPA”]. I believe this study included light rail vs. express buses that included the preferred alignment down Truxel to the airport.
Light rail was adopted as the preferred alternative. This alignment travels through downtown through Natomas along Truxel Road and onto Sacramento International Airport. SacRT completed an EIR for the entire corridor, which was certified on April 28, 2008. SacRT then determined that a portion of the project between downtown and Richards Boulevard on 7th Street could function as the first phase of the DNA, as well as a stand-alone project that serves not only the River District and downtown. SacRT, during the process of updating their 30-year Master Plan found that the polls overwhelmingly voted for the DNA line extension over other projects under consideration.
Mike also mentioned that by bypassing Federal funds for the project, delivery can be expedited. Removing the long drawn-out Federal process for the project would fast-track the one-mile segment. Measure A would fund the design and construction of the first phrase. Consultant, the Hoyt Company is pursuing the design/build process with the intent that the contract will be awarded by either June or as late as August 2009 with the project operable by October 2010.
The current 30% design and environmental studies are anticipated to conclude in April 2009 with certification of the EIR. The SacRT board is scheduled to certify the EIR at the April 13, 2009 Board Meeting. Some of the items the board will consider are: (a) removal of existing trees and sidewalks along Richards Boulevard (b) archeological concerns [Indian burial sites], (c) removal of existing parking, and (d) mitigating the construction noise and vibration during construction.
The next phase is the design/build phase, during which SacRT will complete the design while simultaneously constructing the one-mile extension to ensure that the start of construction will take place in late summer 2009.
The extension is expected to take approximately 12 months to construct and will be open to riders in late 2010.
SacRT and Sacramento County have recently reached an agreement to begin preliminary engineering for the Sacramento International Airport of the DNA line. This segment will include 2.2 miles of track and a new light rail station to be located at the future Terminal B complex.
It is anticipated that by 2020, Sacramento International Airport will serve 16 million passengers annually – representing a 60% increase over current levels.