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PM2.5 PROJECT LEVEL CONFORMITY DETERMINATION FOR CORRIDOR X

3. Interstate 65 / Corridor X Project

A. General Overview

Corridor X is part of the Appalachian Development Highway Program and when completed will consist of a freeway type facility extending from Fulton, Mississippi to Birmingham, Alabama. APD-471(038) & IM-1065(303) involve the construction of the last phases of Corridor X at the route interchange with Interstate 65. The other segments of this project, as evaluated under NEPA (see below), were underway before the Birmingham area was designated as nonattainment for the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS or "standards") for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

The Corridor X segment begins 7500' west of I-65 and extends eastward to US Hwy 31 in the north Birmingham area. This is the connection of Corridor X with I-65 as a route-to-route multi-level interchange.

Detailed map showing the regional transportation system (approximately 900 square miles) around Birmingham, Alabama.
Exhibit 1: Regional Network

The Interstate 65 segment is approximately 5.5 miles in length and begins at 16th St and goes north to Walker's Chapel Rd. This segment includes additional travel lanes and lanes to accommodate the weaving associated with traffic entering and leaving the route interchange. In Exhibit 1: Regional Network, observers can see that the project lies within the hub of the regional system.

This final connection of Corridor X and Interstate 65 will complete the thirty-year effort to construct this portion of the Appalachian Development Highway System.

In Exhibit 2: Study Area, the immediate project area, surrounding intersections and the air quality monitors are displayed.

Detailed street map of the area surrounding the immediate project area. Locations of the Wylam (approximately 8 miles SW of Corridor X / I-65) and North Birmingham (just east of Corridor X / I-65) air monitors are marked on the map.
Exhibit 2: Study Area

B. Relevant NEPA Documents

This project is currently undergoing a re-evaluation of a previous Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). This PM2.5 qualitative analysis will be included in the current NEPA documentation.

The project was included in a FEIS that was approved April 14, 1989: Project APD-471(7) in Jefferson County. The limits of the FEIS extend from the west near the Walker/Jefferson County Line east to US-31 in the Birmingham metropolitan area; approximately 16 miles. During the design of the final 1.5 mile project that included the route interchange of Corridor X and I-65 it was revealed that additional lanes would be needed on Interstate 65 (I-65) to accommodate the interchange of traffic from Corridor X. The impacts of the route interchange with I-65 and the required additional lanes were further evaluated in a re-evaluation of original FEIS that was approved August 15, 2001.

This project is currently undergoing a reevaluation for construction of the final segments as discussed above. The part of the Corridor X project approved under the original FEIS of 1989 and reevaluated in 2001, from the Walker/Jefferson County line to 7500 feet west of I-65, is either completed or under construction. As such, the limits of the re-evaluation and PM2.5 hot-spot analysis are Corridor X from approximately 1.5 miles West of I-65 to US-31 and the additional lanes on I-65.

C. Built and Natural Environment

Birmingham is located in north-central Alabama, at the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains. The area around Birmingham has rich deposits of iron ore, coal, limestone, bauxite, and sand; and Birmingham has historically been a major center of iron and steel production. The city has a diversified economic base, including a wide range of manufacturing and industrial activity of potential significance with respect to air quality.

The census 2000 population of the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was 1.05 million, with a 10 percent population increase from 1990 to 2000. Three interstate highways (I-59, I-65, and I-20) converge in Birmingham, as do US Highways 31, 78, and 280; one interstate bypass (I459) swings around the southern side of the city. Birmingham is also a hub for railroad traffic. The topography is low ridges stretching southwest-to-northeast, potentially channeling or limiting surface airflow under some meteorological conditions. The project area lies within this valley that runs from southwest-to-northeast and the topography and weather conditions in Birmingham tend to force prevailing surface winds to be most frequent parallel to the valley.

The north Birmingham area in the vicinity of the proposed route interchange is a mixed commercial-residential-industrial area, lying between I-65 and US 31and north of Interstate 59/20. Commercial activity in the area includes warehousing, distribution and freight transfer. Industrial activity includes two major coke production facilities, three iron pipe manufacturers, a mineral wool plant, ferrous and non-ferrous metal process facilities, including slag storage and recovery, an asphalt production operation, and a limestone quarry. The area also includes a residential area scattered throughout and adjacent to the commercial activities. The project area is fully developed and any future development will only come from limited infill or redevelopment.

D. Detailed Project Description

This project is the final phases completing the construction of Corridor X in Alabama from its beginning at the Mississippi State line, a distance of approximately 90 miles.

APD-471(038), "Corridor X from I-65 to US-31" and IM-I065 (303), "Additional Lanes on I-65 from 16th St to Walker's Chapel Rd." is integral to overall system performance.

APD-471(038) is being designed as an eight-lane section with all eight lanes to be constructed under this phase of the project. IM-I065 (303) is being designed and constructed with two additional travel lanes from 41st Ave. through US-31. IM-I065 (303) will also include two lanes on the mainline to accommodate weaving movements from and to the two-lane multilevel ramps at the route interchange, with the ramps designed to accommodate the weaving movements within the route interchange.

These improvements are included in the conforming 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan which was determined to conform on March 29, 2006. In summary, Corridor X will be an 8-lane facility, 4 lanes in each direction; I-65 which is currently a 6-lane facility will become an 8-lane facility with 4 lanes in each direction. A brief description of the individual project segments follows.

Corridor X between Coalburg Rd and US-31

Corridor X will be an 8-lane facility, 4 lanes in each direction. Traffic wishing to leave Corridor X and continue on I-65 S will utilize the two merging/weaving lanes added to I-65 southbound. This is the final connecting link of the multiphase Corridor X project. This segment will include the route interchange with Interstate 65.

I-65 between 41st Ave and Corridor X:

There will be two merging/weaving lanes added to I-65 S to facilitate the movement of eastbound traffic wishing to leave Corridor X and continue on I-65 S as well as those traveling along I-65 wishing to exit at 41st Ave. The merge/weave lanes must meet certain design length criteria, in order to safely allow these traffic movements. There is also a collector/distributor road along I-65 on the northbound side to facilitate local street traffic that wishes to access Corridor X and/or I-65.

I-65 between 16th St. and 41st Ave.

There will be two additional travel lanes added to accommodate weaving and merging from north of the route interchange of Interstate 65 and Interstate 59/20 to 41st Ave.

I-65 between Corridor X and US-31:

There will a two lane collector/distributor road along I-65 northbound and southbound to facilitate local street traffic wishing to access Corridor X and/or I-65.

This project is in the current 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan and the conforming 2006 to 2008 Transportation Improvement Program. On March 29, 2006, the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration in consultation with the US Environmental Protection Agency, issued a formal finding that the 2030 LRTP and 2006 - 2008 TIP conform with the State Implementation Plan(SIP) and satisfy the requirements outlined in 40 CFR Parts 51 and 93.

Updated: 07/06/2011
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