PM2.5 PROJECT LEVEL CONFORMITY DETERMINATION FOR THE OHIO RIVER BRIDGES PROJECT
The Ohio River Bridges (ORB) project is located in Jefferson County, Kentucky and in Clark County, Indiana. Both counties are within the designated Louisville area PM2.5 nonattainment area. As such, the project is required to meet Transportation Conformity Rule requirements found in 40 CFR Part 93.
The ORB Record of Decision (ROD) was issued on September 6, 2003. At that time, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had not designated nonattainment areas for the PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The Louisville area was not designated as a PM2.5 nonattainment area until January 5, 2005, with an effective date of April 5, 2005. The "Transportation Conformity Guidance for Qualitative Hot-Spot Analysis in PM2.5 and PM10 Nonattainment and Maintenance Areas" states that if a project still requires a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approval or authorization, a project-level conformity determination is required prior to the first such action on or after April 5, 2006, even if the project has already completed the NEPA process.
In accordance with Section 176 (c) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7506 (c)), transportation projects in nonattainment and maintenance areas must be found to conform to the State Implementation Plan (SIP). Currently there is no applicable PM2.5 State Implementation Plan, and therefore there are no PM2.5 control measures with which to comply (40 CFR 93.117). We found that the ORB project demonstrated this by meeting the criteria of the Transportation Conformity Rule (40 CFR 93).
The Transportation Conformity Rule (40 CFR 93.114 and 93.115) requires that a currently conforming regional long-range transportation plan (LRTP) and a regional short-range transportation improvement program (TIP) must be in place at the time of project approval, and the project must come from the conforming LRTP and TIP.
On November 29, 2005 the Louisville area Metropolitan Planning Organization adopted its fiscally constrained 2006-2030 LRTP and 2006-2008 TIP, which included the Ohio River Bridges project. On March 3, 2006 the LRTP and TIP were found to conform for all applicable pollutants by the Kentucky Division of the Federal Highway Administration and Region 4 of the Federal Transit Administration.
The Transportation Conformity Rule requires that a hotspot analysis as part of the project level conformity in PM2.5 nonattainment areas for certain projects (40 CFR 93.116 and 93.123). The November 2, 2006, report titled "Project-Level Conformity Determination for the Ohio River Bridges Project in Louisville, Kentucky" addresses the new project-level transportation conformity requirements for the Ohio River Bridges project. The report was made available to the public for 15 days, starting on November 21, 2006 and ending on December 6, 2006.
One resource conservation group commented during the public comment period. Their comments focused on public health issues caused by PM2.5 construction emissions, lack of PM2.5 analysis in the EIS, fiscal constraint, and their desire for a supplement to the EIS.
The PM2.5 Hot Spot Analysis determined that the Ohio River Bridges project:
Did not require consideration of temporary emission increases from construction-related activities as the bridges project would be constructed in segments and divided into different individual construction sites. As such, localized construction emissions can be considered separately and temporary as construction-related emissions at each individual construction site is anticipated to be less than five years.
Was included in the Louisville Area's Metropolitan Planning Organizations fiscally constrained Long Range Transportation Plan and Transportation Improvement Program which were found to conform on March 3, 2006.
We find that the Ohio River Bridges project has met the requirements of 40 CFR 93 and is found to conform this 4th day of January, 2007. Further it was determined that the project will not have a significant impact on the PM2.5 air quality in the region and a supplement to the EIS was not required per 23 CFR 771.129 (b)Jose Sepulveda