Environmental Re-evaluation Overview
WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL RE-EVALUTION?
The environmental element of the study will determine if there are new or modified laws and regulations, changes in circumstances or the project area, or new information in general. The Re-evaluation will determine if any amendments will be needed to the Record of Decision, issued in 2003 in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The DOTD Selected Alternative approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the 2003 ROD is Alternative RR-4 Elevated in conjunction with the MPO Subalternative and Subalternative H. The Selected Alternative uses parts of the existing Evangeline Thruway alignment as well as a new alignment adjacent to the railroad right-of-way.
Following the Public Hearing for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the LCG adopted the RR-4 Elevated alignment as the locally preferred alternative with the request that two local collector streets remain open under the freeway. This request, identified as the MPO Subalternative was included in the Selected Alternative. Subalternative H applies to the area north of Willow Street. It provides U-turns both north and south of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive/Castille Avenue intersection and another U-turn farther north nearer the I-10 interchange.
The Selected Alternative represents a balance of impacts in which certain factors were weighed in reaching a decision.
The ROD provides three factors that stand out as the most favorable:
- The Selected Alternative would require the smallest number of residential displacements
- The Selected Alternative moves traffic on both I-49 and the Evangeline Thruway farther from the Sterling Grove Historic District and provides greater enhancement to the St. Genevieve Church and School than the other alternatives with the exception of RR-3, which has the same alignment in that area
- The Selected Alternative is on a new alignment in the core area, and, therefore, it offers more opportunities for direct access to the Central Business District
The Selected Alternative does have environmental impacts relative to wetlands and hazardous waste sites when compared to other alternatives that were considered, but these are more than offset by its reduction in impacts to residential, business and community facilities.
The 21 Commitments in the 2003 ROD to provide measures to avoid, minimize or mitigate potential adverse impacts are as follows:
- Standing Structures and Archaeological Investigations
- Sterling Grove Historic District
- Other Historic Properties
(Eligible for Listing on the National Register of Historic Places)
- Air Quality
- Waste Sites
- Water Quality
- Chicot Aquifer
- Lafayette Regional Airport Runway/Taxiway Displacement
- Vermilion River
(Section 4(f) and 6(f) Properties)
- Live Oak Trees
- Construction Debris
- Destination Signing and Traffic Control Plans
- Local Access and Circulation
- Community Impacts and Cohesion
- Corridor Preservation
- Facility Construction
- Joint Use Development Plan
A Section 106 Study was conducted during the Environmental Impact Statement in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. It was determined that unavoidable visual impacts would occur at the Sterling Grove Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). A MOA was signed by FHWA, DOTD, State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, with three MPO committees and the Lafayette MPO as concurring parties, that requires actions to minimize or mitigate impacts to the Sterling Grove Historic District and potential effects to archaeologically significant properties. Two other properties adjacent to the project, Wallis Estate and Trappey’s Plant Complex, were determined to be eligible for the NRHP; however, the project will not be an adverse visual effect. Another eight properties in the study area were determined eligible for the NRHP, but the Selected Alternative does not affect these properties. Mitigation in regard to Sterling Grove will be considered through the CSS process and defined in the Sterling Grove Mitigation Plan.
For additional historic properties identified during this Functional Plan phase, FHWA and DOTD will consult with the SHPO and other Consulting Parties.
- Prepare a mitigation plan for Sterling Grove Historic District
- Consideration of the following in the plan: landscaping, earthberms, masonry walls, special lighting, long span bridges, attention to use of under bridge areas, hardscape and brick paver treatment, fencing and parks
- Consideration of downlighting as appropriate on all lighting installations
- Provide the following to St. Genevieve Church and School:
- Lighting in front and along adjacent streets for aesthetic and security purposes
- Develop an illuminated and landscaped plaza in front of church
- A decorative fence enclosing the area
- St. Genevieve will accept ownership and maintenance responsibilities upon completion of No. 4
- Greig Street will be redeveloped in a manner that enhances the St. Genevieve properties
- Assure that construction methods will minimize vibration damage to the church
- Seek input from St. Genevieve Catholic Church and School and the general public and the local government before submitting to the SHPO for approval
- Receive approval of the Mitigation Plan from the SHPO prior to preparing final plans for I-49 in the vicinity of the Sterling Grove Historic District
- If additional historic properties are identified following completion of the Mitigation Plan, the owners of the additional historic properties will be made aware of the Mitigation Plan and their input will considered for amendments to the terms of the MOA.
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) requires Federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties. Section 106 review is an important tool that is used to influence federal decision regarding historic properties. Follow the link below if you would like to participate in the Section 106 process for the Lafayette Connector.