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CDOT, Federal Highway Administration Announce Preferred Alternative for a US 550 at US 160 Connection in Grandview

July 23, 2012 - Southwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - LA PLATA COUNTY – The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announce the findings of the alternatives evaluation for a US 550 connection to US 160 in Grandview.

The Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement (SFEIS) is available for public viewing through August 27, 2012, at locations listed below.

The Preferred Alternative for the US 550 South Connection to US 160 is Alternative Revised G Modified—a realignment of US 550 connecting to US 160 at the Grandview Interchange. CDOT and FHWA evaluated all newly identified impacts to historic and archaeological sites and any other changes in impacts related to the connection of US 550—both natural and manmade, including regulatory updates. Issues evaluated in this study included—but were not limited to—environmental impacts, private property impacts, highway safety, mobility and traffic patterns both current and projected. Of all the alternatives analyzed, the Revised G Modified Alternative was identified as the one that best meets project purpose and need for capacity, safety and access control, and has the fewest environmental impacts.

Analysis for this final document has been underway since the FHWA and CDOT released the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for public review on October 14, 2011. During a 45-day public comment period that followed, a public hearing was held with approximately 100 people in attendance. Five agencies and 83 people commented on the document, with the majority of the comments focusing on estimated traffic volumes, existing alignment alternatives and opposition to the Eastern Realignment Alternative. Many expressed support for the draft Preferred Alternative (Alternative Revised G Modified), and many expressed interest in an alignment that would utilize the existing US 550. CDOT and FHWA responded in the SFEIS to each comment received. Some comments resulted in changes in clarification to the SDEIS, which are reflected in the current SFEIS.

The SFEIS includes a reevaluation of various alternatives from the original 2006 US 160 EIS in addition to several new alternatives developed to avoid or minimize impacts to the historic Webb Ranch, including a Western Realignment, an Eastern Realignment, and several alternatives along the existing US 550 alignment, including new alternatives presented by the Webb Ranch representatives (R Alternatives). Screening presented in the recent study identified three alternatives, Revised F Modified, Revised G Modified, and Eastern Realignment, that met the project purpose and need and practicability screening criteria (costs, logistics or other environmental consequences). Alternatives that were eliminated due to not meeting the above criteria are: (1) the Western Realignment, and (2) all alternatives along the existing US 550 alignment, including the R Alternatives. These included signalized intersections, as well as partial and full interchanges.

Once the availability period for the SFEIS ends on August 27, 2012, a Record of Decision (ROD) can be issued. The ROD will identify the decision made on the proposed action and the reasons for that decision. Although there will be no formal response to comments made on the SFEIS, all comments will be considered during preparation of the ROD.

History of the study: CDOT and FHWA began the environmental process for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement in early 2011. The study has looked at only the alignment and connection of US 550 to US 160, not the entire US 160 corridor. The document supplements the existing 2006 US 160 Environmental Impact Statement to address the newly identified impacts to historic and archaeological sites and any other changes related to the connection of US 550—both natural and manmade.

SFEIS document available: The SFEIS is available to the public at Durango, Bayfield and Ignacio public libraries, San Juan Public Lands Center, City of Durango, La Plata County and CDOT’s main Durango office at 3803 North Main. In the Denver area the document is available at CDOT Headquarters and at the Federal Highway Administration’s Colorado Division office. It is also available online at: http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/us550-at-160.

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