QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STUDY
Hasn’t this process been completed before?
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was completed in 2004, with a preferred alternative identified for a new I-69 Ohio River Crossing just east of Henderson. With no funding source identified, a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) were never issued. Information from the previous DEIS, as well as other studies completed by the states, will be is being considered by the Project Team. Logical termini of the I-69 in Kentucky and Indiana have also changed, eliminating some previously considered alternatives. Innovative financing and funding solutions that weren’t previously considered or available will be are being explored under the current studies as well.
What is NEPA?
NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, requires the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to assess environmental effects before making decisions concerning the construction of highways and other publicly-owned facilities.
The NEPA process includes:
- Assessment of the social, economic and environmental impacts of a proposed project
- Analysis of a range of reasonable alternatives to the proposed project, based on project’s defined purpose and need
- Consideration of measures to avoid, minimize or mitigate potential impacts
- Interagency coordination and consultation
- Public involvement, including opportunities to participate and comment
- Documentation and disclosure
- A Record of Decision from FHWA, which identifies the final preferred alternative
What are the steps involved in the environmental study?
- Step 1 – COMPLETE – Determine the project’s purpose and need and identify conceptual alternatives that address those needs
- Step 2 – COMPLETE – Collect preliminary environmental and engineering data, reviewing results with the Project Team, resource agencies and the public
- Step 3 – IN PROGRESS – Develop a short list of potential corridors and begin detailed engineering, field investigations, agency coordination, public involvement and financial analysis
- Step 4 – Identify a preliminary preferred alternative and present the DEIS for public review and comment
- Step 5 – Address public comments on the preferred alternative, publish a Final Environmental Impact Statement and receive a Record of Decision from FHWA
What factors will be studied?
A long list of potential impacts are being studied, some of which include impacts to property, cost, traffic, property access, low-income and minority communities, water resources, noise, air quality, wildlife and historical resources. These impacts will be weighed with project performance measures to identify a preferred alternative.
Is there a way to expedite preliminary design and the environmental review?
The NEPA timeline approved by Indiana and Kentucky is aggressive, but realistic. The NEPA process includes robust surveys and data collection, as well as agency coordination. The team will accelerate the schedule whenever possible, and expects to publish the Draft Environmental Impact Statement by fall 2018 and the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision is expected by fall 2019.
Will Kentucky and Indiana have equal influence over which alternative is selected?
This is a bi-state project, and Kentucky and Indiana will collaborate throughout the decision-making process.
What happens when the environmental process is over?
If construction of the project is recommended, the FHWA decision allows Indiana and Kentucky to prioritize and program the project.
How is the preferred alternative selected?
It is a multi-step process that includes leadership in both states, the community, and state and federal agencies. After preliminary studies are complete for the Draft Environment Impact Statement (DEIS), the two states will consider the identified benefits, impacts, costs and community input and will propose a preferred alternative in the DEIS.
Public hearings will follow in both states and include a formal public and agency comment period. After addressing all comments, the states will confirm the preferred alternative in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Final approval of the preferred alternative will come from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) through the issuance of a Record of Decision (ROD).
When can the public review and comment on the study?
INDOT and KYTC are committed to updating the public about the study process often. Updates are shared on the project website and public open houses at key decision points and project milestones. The public is also encouraged to review project materials posted to the website and to provide comments or ask questions via email or by stopping into one of the project offices. All input received over the course of the project is being considered in the decision-making process.
When the DEIS is published, notices will be placed in local newspapers, on the project website and social media channels, and sent to all affected property owners. Copies of the DEIS will be available for review on the project website, in public locations such as local libraries or government buildings, and in the project offices.
Public hearings and the formal, 45-day comment period will be promoted broadly to allow interested residents and stakeholders ample time to review and provide feedback on the document.