Prepare the FEIS / Section 404 application

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Like the DEIS / Section 404 application, many activities are performed when preparing the FEIS / Section 404 application. These include: identifying substantive comments received on the DEIS / Section 404 application, making changes to the study based on substantive comments, identifying a preferred alternative for satisfying the studies purpose and need, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identifying the ‘Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative’, and developing measures to mitigate adverse impacts to the natural and manmade features, if needed.

MaineDOT and the FHWA will consider and respond to substantive comments received on the DEIS / Section 404 application, including those from the public hearing. The FEIS / Section 404 application will include copies of the comments received on the draft. If comments are voluminous, they may be summarized. If the FEIS / Section 404 application was changed in response to comments, the changes will be referenced in the responses.

MaineDOT’s and the FHWA’s preferred alternative will be identified in the FEIS / Section 404 application. The FEIS / Section 404 application will describe the preferred alternative, and the basis for that decision. The preferred alternative is the alternative that the agencies determine to best meet the study purpose and needs, with the least adverse environmental impact, at an affordable cost. Measures to mitigate adverse impacts to the natural and manmade features will be identified, if needed.

As part of the FEIS / Section 404 application, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will help to identify the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA). Critical to the selection of the LEDPA is the recognition of the full range of NEPA alternatives and their impacts in determining first, which alternatives are practicable (in terms of logistics, technical aspects, and overall cost) and second, which are environmentally less damaging.

 

Circulate the DEIS / Section 404 application

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The DEIS / Section 404 application will be distributed to solicit public and agency comments. During the comment period, MaineDOT, the FHWA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold a public hearing on the DEIS / Section 404 application to provide an overview of the study and receive comments before proceeding with the preparation of the FEIS / Section 404 application. The comment period will last at least 45 days and several ways to provide comments exists.

Prepare the DEIS / Section 404 application

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Many activities are performed when preparing the DEIS / Section 404 application: identify natural resources and manmade features in the area, detailed analysis of the purpose and needs for the study, development and evaluation of the alternatives being considered, and the potential impacts from those alternatives. Throughout the preparation of the DEIS / Section 404 application, opportunities for public input exist and coordination with Federal and state agencies with jurisdiction by law will be performed.

Impacts are assessed for natural, aesthetic, historic, cultural, economic, social, and health-related resources, whether direct, indirect, or cumulative. To determine the significance of impacts, their intensity must be evaluated in terms of the type, quality, and sensitivity of the resource involved; the location of the alternatives being considered; the duration of the effect (short- and long-term), and other considerations of context.

Study initiation and scoping

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Internal administrative activities such as aligning resources, developing work plans and coordination plans, preparation of a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS, and public and agency “scoping” are performed. For general requirements of a Notice of Intent, click here.
Scoping is an early and open process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed and for identifying the significant issues related to a proposed action.

As part of the scoping process, MaineDOT and the FHWA:

  • Invite participation from affected Federal, State, and local agencies, tribes, and interested persons in the planning and execution of the study
  • Determine the scope of the significant issues to be analyzed in depth in the EIS and the methods for analysis
  • Identify and eliminate from detailed study the issues which are not significant, narrowing the analysis and discussion of these issues to a brief presentation of why they will not have a significant impact on the human environment
  • Allocate assignments for preparing the EIS

As part of the scoping process, MaineDOT and the FHWA will hold a public and agency scoping meeting. MaineDOT and the FHWA will provide information on the background of the study, a broad outline of the study to be performed including schedule of activities, the purpose of the study and why it is needed (i.e., the problems it will fix), the natural resources and manmade features in the area, the range of alternatives being considered, and the studies to be performed. As part of scoping, MaineDOT and the FHWA are particularly interested in public comments on the purpose and ‘needs’ for the study and alternatives being considered.

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About the Study


The MaineDOT and the FHWA, acting as joint lead agencies, are conducting a study of the traffic on I-395, Route 1A, Route 46, and Route 9 in the City of Brewer and the Towns of Holden, Eddington, and Clifton in Penobscot County.

This page provides an overview of the study: information on the study, how the study is being conducted, its purpose and why it is needed, who is involved in the study, and some background information.

The Study

The study requires a considerable amount of effort and people that work in many different Federal, State and local agencies and disciplines, and the public. The results of this study are the Environmental Impact Statement, Section 404 Permit Application, and the conceptual design of the alternatives studied in detail. For these and other documents, see the Publications page.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is being prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Maine’s Sensible Transportation Policy Act (STPA).

Study Location

Location Map

Study Area
thumbnail map of alternatives

 

The purpose of an EIS is to provide the MaineDOT, the FHWA, other federal and state agencies, and the public with a full accounting of the anticipated environmental impacts of the alternatives developed for meeting the study’s purpose and needs. The EIS serves as the primary document to facilitate review of the proposed action by federal, state, and local agencies and the public.

“The EIS shall provide full and fair discussion of significant environmental impacts and shall inform decision makers and the public of reasonable alternatives that would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or enhance the quality of the human environment.” (40 CFR Part 1502.1). An EIS must briefly discuss the purpose and need for the proposed action, the range of alternatives considered, the predicted impacts from the proposed action, and the agencies and people consulted during the planning of the proposed action.

Where are we in the study?
The study can be broken into seven general steps, click on any of the steps for more information.

Circulate the FEIS / Section 404 application

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MaineDOT and the FHWA will distribute the FEIS / Section 404 application for review. The FEIS / Section 404 application will be available during the ‘wait period’ for a minimum of 30 days before the Record of Decision is issued.

      We are Here      
Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Step 7

 

NEPA and the STPA

NEPA
NEPA is the nation's broadest environmental law and our nation's basic environmental charter. NEPA applies to all federal agencies and most of the activities that they fund or manage that affect the environment. It requires federal agencies to consider the environmental, social, and economic impacts of their actions and disclose them in a public decision-making document.
NEPA requires the preparation of environmental documents to ensure that federal agencies accomplish the purpose and intent of the law. Individual federal agencies and the President's Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) have adopted regulations, policy, and other guidance to ensure that they follow the law to implement NEPA

STPA
The decisions made in the transportation sector are of critical importance to the people of Maine. The field of transportation is diverse, ranging from pedestrian, to motorized vehicles, to telecommunications. The STPA reflects that diversity in the decision-making that occurs in the planning and development of Maine's transportation network.
STPA provides a framework for examining a range of choices. It recognizes there are benefits and costs (financial, energy, and environmental) to transportation. Mobility is no longer treated as an inexhaustible resource but rather as a resource that needs to be both supplied and conserved. STPA identifies policies and management strategies for the analysis of these diverse issues.

Section 404 of the Clean Water Act Permit
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires a permit for the discharge of dredged and fill material into Waters of the U.S, including wetlands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is an active participant in the study. The Section 404(b)(1) guidelines provide guidance to the Corps for issuing permits; compliance with the 404(b)(1) guidelines is required for the issuance of a permit.

The Purpose of the study and why it is needed

Purpose
The purpose of the I-395/Route 9 Transportation Study is to:

  1. identify a section of the National Highway System in Maine from I-395 in Brewer to Route 9, to be constructed consistent with the current American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) policy on design;
  2. improve regional system linkage;
  3. improve safety on Route 46 and Route 1A; and
  4. improve the current and future flow of traffic, and the shipment of goods to the interstate system.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have determined that the basic project purpose, in compliance with Section 404 is “to provide for the safe and efficient flow of east-west traffic and shipment of goods from Brewer (I-395) to Eddington (Route 9), Maine for current and projected traffic volumes”.

Needs
The needs (i.e., problems) for the study are:

  1. Poor system linkage
  2. Safety concerns
  3. Traffic congestion

I-395 provides motorists an opportunity to travel from the interstate system to Route 9, without having to travel through downtown Bangor. Roadways commonly used to travel between I-395 and Route 9 are Route 1A and Route 46. Route 46 is a collector roadway meant to serve primarily local traffic, but it is used by regional traffic that would be better served by an arterial roadway. The result is a discontinuity in  the highway system linkage and mobility.

Over time, traffic volumes, particularly heavy trucks, traveling these roadways near I-395 have increased substantially. Because of the increase in overall traffic volumes and the number of heavy trucks traveling the area, the number of vehicle crashes has also increased. There are several high crash locations in the area.

Study Participants

Throughout this study, the MaineDOT and the FHWA will coordinate with a many U.S. federal agencies, state agencies, local agencies, and the public.

Federal Agencies

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service

Tribes

  • Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians
  • Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians
  • Passamaquoddy Tribe
  • Penobscot Nation of Maine

State Agencies

  • Department of Conservation
  • Department of Environmental Protection
  • Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
  • Maine Historic and Preservation Commission
  • State Planning Office

Local Agencies

  • City of Bangor
  • City of Brewer           
  • Town of Clifton
  • Town of Eddington
  • Town of Holden
  • Bangor Area Comprehensive Transportation System (BACTS)

Public Advisory Committee
A Public Advisory Committee or PAC has been established to participate in this study. A PAC is a diverse group comprised of local and regional officials, business owners, and citizens that volunteer their time to stay involved in the study through regular meetings with the MaineDOT and FHWA. MaineDOT uses a PAC as one way of learning about local issues and features and communicating with the public.

Background information
Since the mid-1930s Maine, Northern New England, and eastern Canada have discussed methods to improve east-west roadway travel in the region. In 1987, in response to increased transportation needs in this corridor, the 113th Maine Legislature enacted a law entitled: An Act to Authorize the Construction of an East-West Highway.

In response to the legislative directive, the MaineDOT developed a work plan with improvement recommendations titled “East-West Highway Improvement Needs, Routes 9 and 2, in 1988”. The work plan recommendations commenced at the Routes 1 and 9 intersection in Baileyville and traversed Routes 2 and 9 to Gilead at the New Hampshire/Maine border. The report reviewed the traffic conditions and characteristics to develop and prioritize overall needs for roadway reconstruction, bridge improvements, resurfacing and roadway relocations. In response to the report directives, MaineDOT initiated a program to reconstruct and rehabilitate Route 9 from Clifton to Baileyville. The last project rehabilitating this section of Route 9 was completed in 2003.

A second directive from the “East-West Highway Improvements Needs” report was the analysis of a direct connection of Route 9, the gateway to Down East Maine, with the Interstate roadway network near the end of I-395 in Brewer. Construction of a new location alternative would significantly improve travel service and safety for those currently traveling Routes 1A, 9 and 46.

In 1997, the 118th Maine Legislature required the MaineDOT and the Maine State Planning Office (SPO) to conduct a study of the costs, benefits, and social and environmental impacts relative to the development of an east-west roadway linking the east with the Canadian Maritime Provinces and the west, trade markets of Quebec, Ontario, and the Midwestern United States. On October 6, 1999, in a speech entitled “Seven Steps to Implementing Better East-West Transportation in Maine” Governor Angus King announced the results of “A Technical Report on An East-West Highway in Maine”. The analysis outlined a four-part strategy for improving Maine’s east-west link; Part 2 of the Strategy identified the need to construct a new limited-access roadway connecting I-395 in Brewer to Route 9 in the Eddington area. Then Governor King stated the need to begin the required environmental assessment and preliminary engineering process to implement this recommendation. As directed in 2000, the MaineDOT initiated the preparation of an environmental assessment (EA) for the I-395/Route 9 study.

On October 11, 2005, the I-395/Route 9 Transportation Study EA was elevated to an environmental impact statement because of the potential impacts to wetlands and potential difficulty in identifying mitigation for these impacts. In response to the need to prepare an EIS on December 1, 2005, the Federal Register Environmental Documents published the Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare the EIS.

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Record of Decision

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MaineDOT and the FHWA will prepare and distribute a Record of Decision (ROD) for the study. The ROD is the final step in the EIS process. The ROD identifies the selected alternative, presents the basis for the decision, identifies the alternatives considered, specifies the “environmentally preferable alternative,” and provides information to avoid, minimize and compensate for environmental impacts.

 

Next Steps

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Initiate final engineering design, complete applications and receive permits, and other next steps. Following the ROD, MaineDOT and the FHWA can proceed with the initiation of final engineering design, the completion of permit applications, the acquisition of property, and construction. As this process could take several years to complete, as part of final engineering design, MaineDOT and the FHWA would work with the towns to develop a plan to protect the corridor of the selected alternative, including the area of its intersections and interchanges, from further development.

 

 

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