WHAT IS the supplemental environmental impact statement?
A Notice of Intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statements (SEIS) for the I-49 Connector was issued on June 24, 2016, when it became apparent that modifications to the 2003 ROD Selected Alternative could result in significant adverse impacts not identified in the approved document. This was necessary because following the completion of a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document, such as the 2002 EIS and 2003 ROD for the I-49 Connector, if substantial time has elapsed prior to implementation of the project, there needs to be a Reevaluation. That was the intent for the I-49 Connector when the project restarted in July 2015. The Reevaluation is done to determine if there are new or modified laws and regulations, changes in the project area, or new information in general. If the Reevaluation reveals that there have been changes in the environment, or that changes would be made to the proposed action, which could result in significant adverse impacts not identified in the approved document, a SEIS must be prepared.
The changes that have taken place in Lafayette since 2003, and the changes in community needs meet that definition.
The SEIS must contain the reason for preparing a Supplement and an evaluation of the changes and new impacts. The SEIS is processed in the same way as the original document, except that there is no requirement for formal scoping.
The SEIS includes several phases:
The first is the Alternatives Analysis to determine what changes to the project will be studied in the next phase. This was completed through the Three-Tier Concept Refinement Process (CRP), conducted with extensive public participation, including various public forums and meetings of the Community Working Group and the Technical Advisory Committee, initially created for the Context Sensitive Solutions CSS process. The CRP was concluded with the recommendation by the Executive Committee of the Refinement Alternatives to be studied and compared to the 2003 ROD Alternative in the SEIS.
This will be followed by the CSS phase to assure that specific design features of the project and within the surrounding area are discussed by the community. This will conclude with the identification of a Preferred Alternative.
The Environmental Analysis phase will begin concurrently with the CSS but will be completed after the Preferred Alternative is identified. This will identify any adverse impacts that may result from the alternatives and will identify measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate those impacts. Also, while the requirements of Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act are outside of NEPA, these will be satisfied relative to cultural resources and recreation and wildlife areas concurrent with the NEPA process.
The next phase after the Analysis is the preparation and review of the Draft SEIS document by the public and by regulatory agencies, including a 45-day comment period and a Public Hearing.
Following the Hearing, responses to the comments and a Final SEIS will be prepared. FHWA, in consultation with the DOTD, LCG and APC will identify the Selected Alternative and a Record of Decision (ROD) will be prepared. The ROD will revise and update the Commitments in the 2003 ROD as necessary to minimize and mitigate identified potentially adverse environmental conditions identified in the SEIS. The issuance of the ROD by FHWA concludes the process.