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Montezuma Creek to Aneth SR-262 logo 10 July 2006

SR-262 Montezuma Creek to Aneth EIS
Draft Coordination Plan

INTRODUCTION

Purpose of Coordination Plan

In an effort to provide for more efficient environmental reviews for project decision making, Section 6002 of Public Law 104-59, "Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users," (SAFETEA-LU), enacted August 10, 2005, implemented the development of a coordination plan for all projects for which an environmental impact statement (EIS) is prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The plan's purpose is to coordinate public and agency participation in and comment on the environmental review process for a project or category of projects. This is the coordination plan for the SR-262 Montezuma Creek to Aneth EIS. This draft coordination plan will be included with the agency coordination letters, which will be sent from the FHWA office.

The plan is organized in the following manner:

SAFETEA-LU requires the identification of lead, participating, and cooperating agencies in the development of an EIS. For the SR-262 EIS, the lead agencies include the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). The Utah Division of FHWA, in coordination with UDOT, determined what other federal, state, and tribal agencies would be named as joint lead agencies, project sponsors, participating agencies, and cooperating agencies. Table 1 lists these various agencies, points of contact, and their responsibilities in the development of the SR-262 EIS, and will be completed upon receipt of agency acknowledgements of the agency coordination letters.

Lead, Participating, and Cooperating Agencies and Other Key Project Contacts
Agency Point Of Contact Responsibility for Project
Utah Department of Transportation Kim Manwill Lead Agency
Federal Highway Administration Ed Woolford Lead Agency
Bureau of Indian Affairs spacer Cooperating Agency
Navajo EPA spacer Cooperating Agency
US Army Corps of Engineers Kara Hellige Participating Agency

Table 1 — Lead, Participating, and Cooperating Agencies and Other Key Project Contacts

Project History and Overview

In the early 1990's, SR-262 was improved for safety reasons from the Utah/Colorado state boundary to a point approximately 0.50 mile east of Aneth, Utah. At that time, funds to improve the safety of SR-262 westward to its intersection with SR-162, in Montezuma Creek, Utah, were unavailable, though preliminary plans were developed and an archaeological inventory was performed. In 2004, the Navajo Nation/Aneth Chapter secured federal funding to complete an environmental study and pay for the mitigation required for safety improvements along this segment of SR-262. As a result of this fundraising, the FHWA and the UDOT have initiated this EIS.

This project is named SR-262; Montezuma Creek to Aneth. The UDOT project number is STP-0262(8)23E. Since the time the project was originally identified in the State Transportation Improvement Plan, the route numbering has changed. Now, the portion of SR-262 from the intersection of SR-162 and SR-262 eastward to the Colorado state line is designated as part of SR-162. Due to the difficulty and potential confusion in changing the project name and number as well as funding designations specifically for SR-262, it was decided that the project name and number would remain as originally labeled. However, this document will refer to all highways by their current route number designation.

A Notice of Intent (NOI) was published in the February 8, 2006 Federal Register to inform agencies and the public of the beginning of the project. Lengthwise, the study area extends from 0.5 mile west of the intersection of SR-162 and SR-262, east to the western endpoint of the previous improvement (east of Aneth) for a distance of 8.5 miles. The study area is generally a 300-foot wide corridor along the existing alignment, but does not extend past the near bank of the San Juan River. Except for lands around Montezuma Creek, Utah, the project area lies entirely within the Navajo Nation/Aneth Chapter.

The area is sparsely populated, with residential development existing in the towns of Montezuma Creek and Aneth. Between the two towns, some sporadic residential development exists, as do industrial developments related to oil exploration. SR-162 follows the bluffs on the north and lies between those bluffs and the San Juan River to the south. A project overview map is provided in Figure 1 on the following page.

SR-162 serves as an access to several ancient native peoples' ruins and state and national points of interest, including Hovenweep National Monument, Monument Valley, the San Juan River, and the Four Corners. The purpose of this project is to improve the conditions for the traveling public along SR-162 in the project corridor.

Figure 1 - Project Overview Map: Map depicting project area around SR-262 from Montezuma Creek to Aneth, in San Juan County, Utah.

Figure 1 — Project Overview Map

Figure 2 presents a general project schedule for the project showing an anticipated EIS completion with issuance of a Record of Decision by FHWA by mid 2008.

Figure 2 - General Project Schedule Timeline of the EIS project schedule from 2006 to 2010.

Figure 2 — General Project Schedule

SR-162 serves as a main transportation corridor from Montezuma Creek to Aneth within the Navajo Nation and also as a travel corridor for other people traveling between southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. Improvements to SR-162 are being proposed to improve safety along this important corridor. Other key project issues identified thus far include Cultural/Archaeological Resources, Natural Resources, Floodplain/Wetlands, Social/Economic Resources, and Permitting. A brief description of each of these issues follows.

  • Safety — Along the length of SR-162 between Montezuma Creek and Aneth, the shoulders and adjacent clear zone (relatively flat and clear area where errant vehicles can recover) do not meet current requirements. In addition, the offset intersection of SR-262 and SR-162 in Montezuma Creek presents an unsafe situation where turning traffic can back up to the point where they are stopped in traveling lanes.
  • Cultural Resources — The project area crosses through an area rich in cultural/archaeological resources. Resources include evidence of past occupation as well as human remains. Cultural resource locations will need to be identified to allow for avoidance or minimization of impacts when developing and screening alternatives.
  • Natural Resources — Wildlife resources along SR 162 include state, federal, and/or Navajo Nation identified species of concern (or the habitats of those species). There are several federally listed or candidate species associated with the San Juan River and/or the riparian habitat close-by including the bald eagle, southwestern willow flycatcher, yellow-billed cuckoo, and the Colorado pikeminnow. Several state species of concern, including the flannelmouth sucker, are also associated with this area.
  • Wetlands — Several wetlands may be located in the vicinity of the roadway, most notably associated with creeks or washes crossed by SR-162.
  • Social and Economic Issues — Social and economic issues include environmental justice populations along SR-162 and economic impacts from visitors and travelers through the area.
  • Permitting — Since this project occurs on lands under tribal jurisdiction, extra permitting requirements exist.

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PROJECT MILESTONES AND ASSOCIATED REVIEW PERIODS

Expectations

SAFETEA-LU establishes milestones at which work must be reviewed by participating agencies prior to moving forward with the EIS process. Upon review and incorporation of comments received from participating agencies, the project can move forward with the approvals. These milestones include the Purpose and Need and the Alternatives sections of the EIS.

For the SR-262 EIS, the draft Purpose and Need and the Alternatives sections of the EIS will be submitted to the UDOT contact for internal review and comment. Upon incorporation of the UDOT's comments, the UDOT contact will distribute to the FHWA for a two-week review. After incorporating comments, the sections will be released to the participating agencies. The participating agencies and the public will have 30 days in which to review the documents and submit comments to the UDOT contact, who will then consolidate the comments and submit to the consultant for incorporation into the appropriate document. After a comment period of 30 days, the project team will move forward with the EIS process under the assumption that any participating agencies or members of the public that did not provide comments within 30 days are in agreement with the product. However, whenever comments are provided throughout the EIS process, they will be considered.

The comment periods for the draft and final EIS products will not be affected by the comment periods required for the Purpose and Need and Alternatives sections review.

The overall EIS schedule will not be affected by these milestone comment periods-comments can be incorporated while subsequent unrelated work is ongoing.

Purpose and Need

The draft Purpose and Need section was submitted to the UDOT contact on July 11, 2006 for internal review and comment. Upon incorporation of UDOT's comments, the draft Purpose and Need will be distributed to FHWA. After the two-week review period and incorporation of comments, the final Purpose and Need section will be released to the participating agencies and the public for their 30-day review and comment period. It is expected the start of the 30-day review and comment period will be in August 2006.

Alternatives

The draft Alternatives section will be sent to the UDOT contact in late summer or early fall, 2006 for internal review and comment. Upon incorporation of the UDOT's comments, the Alternatives section will then be distributed to FHWA. After the two-week review period and incorporation of comments, the final Alternatives section will be released to the participating agencies and the public for their 30-day review and comment period. It is expected the start date of the 30-day review and comment period will be in the fall, 2006 time frame.

Draft EIS

The Draft EIS is expected to be released for a 45-day comment period in November 2007. After the comment period, the project team will move forward with the EIS process under the assumption that any participating agencies that did not provide comments within the 30 days are in agreement with the product. However, comments provided at any time throughout the EIS process will be considered.

Final EIS

The Final EIS is expected to be released for a 30-day comment period in May 2008. The final EIS comment period is the last period during which comments will be received from the public and agencies. Upon addressing the comments received in the comment period the EIS will then be forwarded to FHWA with a request for a Record of Decision for the project.

Programmatic Agreement

At the onset of the SR-262 EIS, it was determined that FHWA and UDOT should enter into a project-specific Programmatic Agreement (PA). The signatories of this PA shall include FHWA, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Officer, the Utah State Historic Preservation Officer, the Utah State Institutional Trust Lands Administration, and UDOT. The PA will disclose the methodologies and procedures for assessing the cultural and archaeological resources in the project area and will satisfy the FHWA's section 106 responsibility for all individual aspects of the SR-262 project.

Coordination specific to cultural and archaeological resources is described in detail in the PA, which is included in Appendix A. FHWA is currently preparing the PA and it will be distributed to agencies upon finalization.

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PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT PLAN

Summary of Public Involvement Plan

A public involvement (PI) plan developed for this project addresses public involvement planning, stakeholder outreach, and analysis and implementation of stakeholder feedback. The plan is a living document and is updated as the project progresses and new information regarding public or stakeholder outreach is obtained. A copy of the most recent version of the public involvement plan is found in Appendix B.

Tools identified in the PI plan include holding a PI workshop; developing an initial stakeholder list; developing and maintaining a project database; developing and maintaining a project website; developing a project logo; holding and summarizing scoping and public meetings; holding and summarizing a public hearing; presentations to the Navajo Nation Aneth Chapter, providing Navajo speaking translators at all meetings with the public and translating specific project display materials into the Navajo language; developing news releases and feature stories; providing project briefings; advertising meetings and milestones; analyzing effectiveness of PI tools; analyzing and implementing website and public comments; and securing the services of a court recorder at the public hearing.

Table 2 lists PI actions taken to date.

Public Involvement Activities to Date
Activity When Occurred
Develop Project Website January 2006
Conduct PI Workshop January 17, 2006
Develop Project Logo February 2006
Prepare PI Plan February 2006
Aneth Chapter Meeting Presentation February 12, 2006
Public Scoping Meeting March 8, 2006

Table 2 — Public Involvement Activities to Date

Contact List

Table 3 lists the project team members along with contact information.

Project Team Members
Contact Responsibility Phone Email
Kim Manwill UDOT Project Manager 435-893-4734 kmanwill@utah.gov
Ed Woolford FHWA 801-963-0182 edward.woolford@fhwa.dot.gov
Owen Lindauer FHWA - Archaeologist 202-366-2655 owen.lindauer@fhwa.dot.gov
Betsy Skinner UDOT Central Environmental Services 801-965-4159 eskinner@utah.gov
Randall Taylor UDOT Region 4 Environmental Engineer 435-893-4714 randalltaylor@utah.gov
Myron Lee UDOT Region 4 Public Involvement Coordinator 435-893-4702 myron@utah.gov
Rachel McQuillen URS Project Manager 801-904-4049 rachel_mcquillen@urscorp.com
Bill Killam URS Environmental 303-740-3816 bill_killam@urscorp.com
Bob Clegg URS Engineering 801-904-4063 robert_clegg@urscorp.com
Amalia Deslis URS Public Involvement 801-904-4017 amalia_deslis@urscorp.com
Kurt Dongoske URS Cultural Resources 602-371-1100 kurt_dongoske@urscorp.com
Andy Herb URS Ecologist 801-904-4076 andy_herb@urscorp.com
Elaine Cleveland-Mason Navajo Nation Archaeological Department - PM 928-871-7200 ecmason@frontiernet.net

Table 3 - Project Team Members

Table 4 lists the agency contacts.

Agency Contacts
Contact Representing Phone
Tom Platero Navajo Department of Transportation spacer
Kara Hellige US Army Corps of Engineers spacer
spacer Navajo Environmental Protection Agency spacer
spacer Navajo Fish and Wildlife Department spacer
spacer Navajo Historic Preservation Office spacer
spacer U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spacer
spacer U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spacer
spacer OTHERS?????? spacer

Table 4 — Agency Contacts

APPENDIX A:
Programmatic Agreement

Appendix B: Public Involvement Plan

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