The Federal Highway Administration and the Arizona Department of Transportation will be preparing a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement for the Interstate 11 Corridor from Nogales to Wickenburg in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulatory requirements. NEPA was enacted by Congress in December 1969 and signed into law in January 1970. It was the first major environmental law in the United States that established the nation’s environmental policies. Under NEPA, federal lead agencies, such as the FHWA, are required to consider impacts of a proposed action on social, cultural, natural and economic resources.
The environmental review process under NEPA also provides an opportunity for you, the public, to be involved in the decision-making. It helps you understand what is being proposed; allows you to offer your thoughts and ideas on alternative ways to accomplish what is being proposed; and seeks your comments on the potential environmental effects and possible mitigation required for the proposed action.
Community members have valuable information about places and resources that they value and the potential effects that proposed actions might have on those places and resources. NEPA provides you with multiple opportunities to work with the FHWA and ADOT so they can take your information and feedback into account.
The graphic below shows the general steps of the environmental review process in preparing the Tier 1 EIS, including the opportunities for public and agency comments. We have completed the second step shown on the graphic (Conduct Scoping) and are now moving into the next step (Develop and Screen Alternatives).
Scoping is an early, important step in the environmental review process. During scoping, the public and agencies have an opportunity to share their ideas and concerns, which help determine the “scope” or range of issues to be addressed in the environmental document, also referred to as the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement.
The Federal Highway Administration and Arizona Department of Transportation held six public scoping meetings between June 8th and June 29th at locations throughout the corridor study area, including Casa Grande, Buckeye, Nogales, Tucson, Marana, and Wickenburg. A total of 540 people participated in the meetings. Attendees were encouraged to share verbal and written comments, as well as mark suggestions on maps of the 280-mile-long corridor study area.
In addition to the scoping meetings, the public had an opportunity to submit comments through an online survey and by email, mail or voicemail. In total, 834 public comments were received through these outreach methods.
Three agency scoping meetings were also held to obtain input from federal, state, regional, county, local and tribal governments. The meetings were held in Phoenix, Casa Grande and Tucson, with 23 agencies in attendance.
Members of the public who completed a comment form or online survey were asked to rank potential issues and human and environmental factors from 1 to 5, with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important. The graphic to the right summarizes the ranking results from the 657 people who completed a comment form or online survey. For the complete list of questions asked of study participants during scoping, please review the comment form.
Other written and verbal comments were received about environmental concerns, potential corridor alternatives, multimodal considerations, economic development, and other issues. The full Scoping Summary Report will be posted on the study website in the coming months. Watch this site for regular updates from the study team.
The feedback received during the scoping process will help the FHWA and ADOT identify the purpose and need; potential corridor alternatives to be studied; impacts to be evaluated; and evaluation methods to be used during the development of the I-11 Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement. This is only the beginning – the public and agencies will continue to be engaged throughout the study.
It takes many people, from the planning phase through construction, to take a proposed project like Interstate 11 from an initial concept to a transportation solution. With a three-year environmental study that began recently for a corridor between Nogales and Wickenburg, here’s a quick rundown of who’s involved.
The Federal Highway Administration is the federal lead agency and the Arizona Department of Transportation the local study sponsor for the ongoing Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement required under the National Environmental Policy Act. Together, they lead the environmental review process and guide involvement from others.
These include federal agencies with jurisdiction or special expertise regarding environmental impacts. Other agencies or tribal governments may also qualify if the Federal Highway Administration concurs. Cooperating agencies typically have a higher degree of involvement in the environmental review process.
Certain federal, state, tribal, regional and local agencies with an interest in the study provide meaningful and specific insights. The role of participating agencies is broader and less-involved than that of cooperating agencies.
These partners range from other agencies to organizations to individuals who wish to be involved. These stakeholders tend to have specific interests in the study, such as living or working in the study area. This effort could not be done without their participation and involvement.