National Environmental Policy Act Process
Following the issuance of the Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register
(February 3, 2005), which identified Delaware Department of Transportation's (DelDOT)
intention to evaluate the US 301 project under the National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA) process and provide the results of that evaluation in an
environmental Impact Statement, DelDOT and the Federal Highway Administration
met with representatives of the various resource and regulatory agencies to
begin the consideration of the effects of the project on the natural and built
environment. Three of those agencies requested to be cooperating agencies: the
US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US
Fish and Wildlife Service.
The consideration of the effects on the environment has been conducted according to the guidelines issued by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and according to the Mid-Atlantic Transportation and Environmental Streamlining Process (MATE Process). MATE is a cooperative, coordinated process that brought all of the resource and regulatory agencies together concurrently, ensuring comprehensive consideration of all resources.
STEP 1 - Purpose and Need (June, 2005)
Prepared by DelDOT and FHWA, the cooperating agencies concurred in the purpose and need for the project in July and August, 2005.
STEP 2 - Environmental Inventory and Range of Alternatives
A range of alternatives was developed from past efforts (the 1994 Draft Environmental Impact Statement and the 2000 Major Investment Study) and current studies that included the Red, Yellow, Orange, Purple, Brown and Green Alternatives. The Blue Alternative was added following the initial June 20 and 21, 2005 Public Workshop.
STEP 3 - Preliminary Effects and Alternatives Retained for Detailed Evaluation
Potential environmental impacts were updated, agency meetings were held and a second set of Public Workshops were held on September 12, 13, and 19, 2005, with the project team's initial recommendations on what alternatives should be retained for detailed evaluation. Based upon the input from the workshops and continued efforts by the project team and agencies in revisions of the alignments and engineering details to better serve Purpose and Need and avoid and minimize direct impacts to natural and socioeconomic resources, the Yellow, Purple + Spur, Brown, and Green + Spur were retained for detailed evaluation. The agencies concurred with the Alternatives Retained for Detailed Evaluation. The recommendations were presented at Public Workshops on December 5, 6 and 7, 2005.
STEP 4 - Detailed Evaluation of the Alternatives Retained
Additional public workshops were conducted in February and April 2006 to address specific questions and comments on the Alternatives Retained for Detailed Evaluation. The US301 Project Team, under the direction of DNREC and USFWS, conducted surveys for the threatened bog turtle throughout the project area. Toll diversion issues were addressed during a series of meetings with officials and representatives of potentially affected areas in Maryland.
STEP 5 - Publication of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was published in November 2006. The DEIS detailed all of the known environmental resources that may be affected by the four retained alternatives as well as preliminary efforts to avoid, minimize or mitigate those impacts. The document included a Recommended Preferred Alternative, Green North + Spur Road. The document was available for public review and comment for a period of no less than 45 days, which ended on February 3, 2007. A Joint Combined Location-Design Public Hearing was held by DelDOT and the US Army Corps of Engineers on January 8 and 9, 2007, to receive formal public comments on the document.
STEP 6 - Publication of the Final Environmental Impact Statement
FHWA and DelDOT requested and received Agency concurrence on the Preferred Alternative selection and proposed mitigation of unavoidable environmental impacts prior to publication of the FEIS. FHWA and DelDOT considered all substantive public comments received during the formal comment period and addressed them in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that was published in November 2007. The FEIS provided further engineering design for the Preferred Alternative, Green North + Spur Road, completed a more detailed determination of effects, resolved issues regarding impacts and proposed avoidance, minimization and mitigation strategies to address the impacts. Continued agency coordination ensured thorough consideration of all impacts and issues. A Biological Assessment was completed as a part of informal consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and DNREC, regarding the bog turtle and its habitat. Section 106 (National Historic Preservation Act) consultation will continue to resolve the effects to historic properties, as detailed in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Wetlands and streams impacts' mitigation sites were identified and concurred in by the Resource Agencies. Further consultation with Maryland continued, to resolve toll diversion issues and any indirect effects that may arise from toll diversions.
STEP 7 - Record of Decision
All commitments agreed upon during the process for the project were formalized for the Selected Alternative, Green North + Spur Road, in a Record of Decision (ROD), approved by the Federal Highway Administration on April 30, 2008, thus completing the NEPA process.