NEPA Process (This site last updated April 29, 2010)
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in coordination with the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), issued a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the portion of US 113 from north of Ellendale to Frederica in September 2003. Preparation of the EIS would fulfill the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). DelDOT and the FHWA met with representatives of the various resource and regulatory agencies to begin consideration of the effects of the project on the natural and built environment. Three federal agencies requested to be cooperating agencies: the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Consideration of the effects on the environment was conducted according to guidelines issued by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and through an extensive and collaborative study process with the interested resource agencies at both the federal and state levels.
Step 1 - Purpose and Need
DelDOT and FHWA prepared a Purpose and Need document for the US 113 Corridor and distributed the document to the cooperating agencies for review and concurrence in 2005. Final concurrence was reached in 2006.
Step 2 - Environmental Inventory and Range of Alternatives
At the outset of the project, the Project Team compiled a database of existing maps and information encompassing the elements included in a NEPA study. Examples included social demographics, comprehensive planning documents, and economic information, as well as available natural resources mapping. This information and mapping allowed project engineers and planners to initiate an iterative process to develop concept segments and combinations to form complete alternatives.
Step 3 - Preliminary Effects and Alternatives Retained for Detailed Evaluation
Potential effects of each of the alternatives on the human and natural environments were assessed on a preliminary basis and shared with both the interested public and federal and state resource agencies. A series of eight Public Workshops and one Open House were held between October 2003 and February 2007. Information, comments, and concerns received from all parties were taken into account, resulting in both additional field investigations for NEPA-related issues and opportunities, and engineering analyses. The results of these investigations led to the elimination of segments and the ultimate reduction in the overall number of complete alternatives, and to the identification of the Alternatives Retained for Detailed Study.
Step 4 - Detailed Evaluation of the Retained Alternatives
The Alternatives Retained for Detailed Study were further refined as additional NEPA-related information was received from state and federal resource agencies. Specifically, alignment analyses to further reduce impacts to residents and businesses, means to reduce impacts to waters of the US, biological surveys for threatened and endangered species, and the recordation of historic standing structures were conducted. As environmental impacts were updated, agency meetings were held to share findings and explain the relevance of the findings to the project. Results of the detailed evaluations of the alternatives led to the announcement on June 15, 2007 of either the Green or Purple Alternative as the Recommended Preferred Alternative.
Step 5 - Suspension of Project
Due to strong public opposition to the Green and Purple Alternatives, the General Assembly removed funding for the Milford and Lincoln portion of the US 113 North/South Study on July 1, 2007. They requested that DelDOT work with the public to achieve consensus on an alignment for the Milford/Lincoln Area. After further analysis and consultation with local leaders, Secretary Wicks informed the General Assembly on January 23, 2008 that "there is no community consensus for a compromise alternative." Therefore, work on the NEPA process has been suspended indefinitely.