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Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

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General Services Administration (GSA); National Capital Region.




Pursuant to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), GSA Order PBS P1095.1F (Environmental considerations in decisionmaking, dated October 19, 1999), and the GSA Public Buildings Service NEPA Desk Guide, GSA plans to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed campus expansion and new eastern access road to support the consolidation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the Federal Research Center at White Oak in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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Harry Debes, Project Executive, General Services Administration, National Capital Region, at (202) 260-9583. Please also call this number if special assistance is needed to attend and participate in the scoping meeting.

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The notice of intent is as follows:

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Campus Expansion and New Eastern Access Road to Support the Consolidation of the Food and Drug Administration at the Federal Research Center at White Oak in Silver Spring, Maryland

The General Services Administration intends to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to analyze the potential impacts resulting from the proposed campus expansion and new eastern access road to support the FDA consolidation at the Federal Research Center (FRC) at White Oak in Silver Spring, Maryland.

This SEIS is an update and supplement to the analyses presented in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Consolidation, Montgomery County, Final Environmental Impact Statement, April 1997 (1997 Final EIS).

Proposed Campus Expansion

In 1997, GSA completed an environmental impact statement that analyzed the impacts from the consolidation of 5,974 FDA employees at the FRC. In July 2002, new legislation was enacted that expanded FDA's mandate to support the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) and the Medical Device User Fee and Modernization Act (MDUFMA). The new legislation and the growth of other programs will likely result in an increase of employees at the FRC from 5,947 (studied in the 1997 Final EIS) to 7,720.

Eastern Access Road

In the environmental analysis performed in 1996-1997 for the 1997 Final EIS, GSA considered traffic impacts and patterns into the FDA facility. It was determined in the Draft EIS, that a new access point was needed from Cherry Hill Road through the eastern portion of the FRC to relieve traffic on New Hampshire Avenue. In order to maintain this access and provide a secure site for the Air Force (located on the northern edge of the FRC), two optional road alignments were studied for the crossing of Paint Branch Creek within the FRC. The road alignment within the FRC was to be selected based on the structural integrity of the existing bridge on Dahlgren Road and on the costs associated with each of the alternatives.

After the release of the Draft EIS, the security requirements of the Air Force changed, and an initial structural investigation found the existing bridge to be sound pending some repair work. Therefore, the two alternative alignments were dropped from the 1997 Final EIS. The 1997 Final EIS still proposed a new entrance at Cherry Hill Road because the existing entrance at Dahlgren Road is too close to the Cherry Hill Road/Powder Mill Road intersection to operate safely and efficiently.

In February 2001, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA—Virginia office), as GSA's agent, prepared a bridge inspection report on Dahlgren Road crossing Paint Branch Creek. In its report, FHWA concluded that “this structure is in poor condition overall, and should be replaced in the near future.”

Due to the deteriorating conditions of the existing bridge on Dahlgren Road and the increased traffic demands anticipated from the FDA consolidation, GSA has decided to reevaluate the construction of a new access point to and through the eastern portion of the FRC.

Alternatives Under Consideration

GSA will analyze the proposed action and no action alternatives for the proposed expansion of the FDA headquarters to include PDUFA and Start Printed Page 35414MDUFMA and other expanded programs. GSA will also analyze a range of alternatives for the eastern road access to and through the site including the no action alternative.

As part of the SEIS, GSA will study the impacts of each alternative on the human environment.

Scoping Process

In accordance with NEPA, a scoping process will be conducted to aid in determining the alternatives to be considered and the scope of issues to be addressed, as well as for identifying the significant issues related to the proposed expansion and new road construction to and through the FRC. Scoping will be accomplished through a public scoping meeting, direct mail correspondence to potentially interested persons, agencies, and organizations, and meetings with agencies having an interest in the FRC. It is important that Federal, regional, State, and local agencies, and interested individuals and groups take this opportunity to identify environmental concerns that should be addressed during the preparation of the Draft SEIS.

Public Scoping Meeting

The public scoping meeting will be held on Thursday, June 26, 2003, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the CHI Center (Multipurpose Room) located at 10501 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland. The meeting will be an informal open house, where visitors may come, receive information, and give comments. GSA will publish notices in the Washington Post and local newspapers announcing this meeting approximately two weeks prior to the meeting. GSA will prepare a scoping report, available to the public, that will summarize the comments received and facilitate their incorporation into the SEIS process.

Written Comments: Agencies and the public are encouraged to provide written comments on the scoping issues in addition to or in lieu of giving their comments at the public scoping meeting. Written comments regarding the environmental analysis for the proposed expansion and construction of a new eastern access road to and through the FRC must be postmarked no later than July 28, 2003, and sent to the following address: General Services Administration, Attention: Harry Debes, Project Executive, 7th and D Streets, SW., Room 2120, Washington, DC 20407. (202) 708-4730 Fax.

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Dated: June 6, 2003.

Thomas E. James,

Director, Portfolio Management Division.

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[FR Doc. 03-15078 Filed 6-12-03; 8:45 am]