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The Libby North Corridor Study

Slide 1

The Libby North Corridor Study

Linking the Transportation Planning and NEPA Processes

Presented by: Jean Riley, Transportation Planning Engineer, MDT

Scott Jackson, Fish Wildlife Biologist, USFWS

Lani Kai Eggertsen-Goff, Lead Planner, PB Americas

Slide 2

Corridor Study/ Plan Process

Overview for this presentation:

  • How we got there — Montana's approach
  • Tools for Facilitation and Collaboration — Corridor Planning
  • Opportunities/ Constraints — What worked/ What didn't
  • Merit for Future

Slide 3

Corridor Planning

This slide shows a graphic of corridor planning, from policy direction to project implementation.

  • Provide for early and continuous involvement of environmental, regulatory, resource agencies, local governments, and public stakeholders.

Slide 4

Libby North Corridor Study: Highway 567 — Pipe Creek Road

This slide shows a map of Highway 567 in Montana.

Slide 5

Using 23 CFR Appendix A Part 450

  • Documentation Needs
  • Level of Detail (compared to a full NEPA)
  • Working with FHWA Division Office to comply with Appendix A
  • Three Main Issues areas:
    • Procedures
    • Substantive
    • Administrative

Slide 6

Procedural Questions

  • Format
  • Level of Detail
  • Type and Extent of Involvement (Agency/ Public)
  • Use of Decisions/ Analyses from Transportation Planning Process
  • Extent of FHWA upfront assurances
  • Considerations for Planning to NEPA

Slide 7

Substantive Issue Areas

  • General Issues
  • Purpose and Need
  • Alternatives or Options
  • Affected Environment
  • Environmental Mitigation/ Avoidance

Slide 8

Administrative Concerns

  • Federal Funds Usage
  • Staffing and Organization Arrangements
  • Agency Liaisons & Partnerships
    • Utilization in Planning Process
  • Training Opportunities

Slide 9

Pipe Creek Road

This slide shows a picture of Pipe Creek Road in Montana.

Slide 10

Corridor Study Background

  • Highway 567 (Pipe Creek Road) formerly a logging road, now connects Libby and Yaak
  • Roadway Reconstruction proposed in 2005
  • Court Ruling of "no take" of Grizzly Bears
  • Additional Threatened Species – Bull Trout, Canada Lynx, and gray wolves
  • Began the Corridor Study process to look at possible options in a planning process versus reconstruction project (NEPA) process

Slide 11

Collaborative Approach

  • Original Scope of Work
  • Public meeting results "don't change the character" of the roadway
  • Two meetings with Agency and MDT staff
  • Alternatives (Options) workshop
  • Agency "buy-in" during and after the process

Slide 12

Proposed Roadway Visualization

This slide shows a visualization of what Pipe Creek Road after construction.

Slide 13

Study Outcome

  • Identified appropriate Option and Phasing
  • Final Public Meeting in November 2007
  • Libby North Corridor Project is anticipated to have the Categorical Exclusion completed by Summer 2010
  • Study printed, distributed and available on Internet (http://www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/libby/)

Slide 14

Lessons Learned

  • Shift from costly EIS to Cat Ex is possible
  • Resource Agency staff appreciate planning approach
  • Improved MDT & Agency relationships
  • The Public spoke & told MDT "thank you for listening to us"
  • Will allow MDT to use this Corridor Study process on other potential projects

Slide 15

Opportunities in Corridor Study Process

  • Addressing portions of NEPA during study = Cost efficiencies
  • Corridor Studies
    • provide appropriate scale for environmental considerations
    • Facilitates early resource agency consultation
    • Allows early identification of issues, possible mitigations and avoidances
    • Allows for no build to be determined due to constraints

Slide 16

Merit for the Future

  • Opportunity to better coordinate & share data & plans amongst agencies
  • May lead to more efficient use of resources from all levels
  • More efficient, less impactive project delivery
  • Can determine no build or phasing options early before programming a project

Slide 17

Constraints in Corridor Study Process

  • Agency resources & workloads are not always conducive to early involvement
  • Reliability of environmental mitigation elements if projects from a corridor study are not advanced in a timely fashion
  • Reliability & completeness of data sources

Slide 18

Additional Information

Slide 19

Questions? Comments?

Thank you for the Opportunity to Present!

Please feel free to contact:

  • Jean Riley, jriley@mt.gov 406-444-9456
  • Montana Department of Transportation
  • Transportation Planning Division
  • 2960 Prospect Avenue
  • Helena, MT 59601
  • Lani Kai Eggertsen-Goff, goff@pbworld.com 801-288-3220
  • Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • 488 East Winchester Street
  • Murray, UT 84107
  • Scott Jackson, scott_jackson@fws.gov 406-449-5225 ext 201
  • U.S., Fish Wildlife Service
  • Montana Field Office
  • 585 Shepard Way
  • Helena, MT 59601

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