EIS Process

What is the Environmental Impact Statement Process?

For major transportation projects, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that a range of alternatives be considered and that their environmental impacts be analyzed. This type of study is required prior to the commitment of federal funds to any major project, or prior to any action taken by a federal agency that might cause a significant impact on the environment. The Federal Highway Administration is the lead Federal agency on the US 160 Environmental Impact Statement. Basic steps in this process include:

  • Scoping: A public process to help define the purpose and need for the proposed action or project and to identify environmental issues that need to be studied.
  • Data Collection: Collecting transportation, environmental and land use data. This step will also include developing a tool for predicting future (year 2025) travel.
  • Development of Alternatives: Identifying a wide range of highway, transit and other types of alternatives, then narrowing these to the reasonable range of alternatives for detailed study. This will include a "No-Action" Alternative.
  • Analysis of Alternatives: Transportation, social, economic and environmental impacts of a reasonable range of alternatives are studied in detail and comparisons are made.
  • Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS): A printed report for public review and comment is prepared documenting the need for the project, describing alternative courses of action, analyzing likely impacts from each alternative, and describing any steps to be taken to avoid impacts or minimize harm to the environment.
  • Public and Agency Review of the DEIS.
  • Preparation of a Final Environmental Impact Statement: Documents preferred alternatives and provides response to comments that were made on the DEIS.
  • Record of Decision: Documents the decision and commits to mitigation of impacts by the lead federal agencies.

The DEIS evaluates the impacts of various actions to the following resources and cultural features:

  • Air quality
  • Archaeological properties
  • Economics Energy
  • Farmlands Floodplains
  • Geology
  • Hazardous materials
  • Historic properties
  • Land use
  • Noise
  • Noxious Weeds
  • Paleontological resources
  • Parks, historic properties and wildlife refuges
  • Pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Recreation
  • Relocation/right of way
  • Social, economic and environmental impacts to low income or minority populations
  • Soils
  • Threatened or endangered species
  • Transportation
  • Vegetation
  • Visual quality
  • Water quality/water resources
  • Wetlands
  • Wildlife and fisheries

The analysis of direct impacts will include those associated with construction processes and operations. Not only will the direct impacts of proposed actions be studied, but also cumulative and indirect impacts and effects.