Friday, September 5, 2008

I-94: Approval doc drafted before citizen comment period began

Highway officials were busy drafting the official document that would give the go-ahead to a $1.9 billion proposal to expand North-South I-94 even before the second public comment period on the proposal even began, state records show.

A WisDOT consultant sent a draft of the document, the Record of Decision, on March 26, one day after FHWA signed off on the Final Environmental Impact Statement and well in advance of the 30-day public comment period began April 5.

"Jay---attached is the signed FEIS cover sheet," consultant Charlie Webb, of CH2M Hill, wrote to WisDOT's Jay Waldschmidt. "The EIS will be sent to the Federal Register today for NOI publication on April 4. Comment period will end May 5. Also attached is the draft Record of Decision for your review."

NOI stands for "Notice of Intent."

It is unclear who actually wrote the draft. The properties box on the Word version document indicates it was created on March 24, just two days before it was sent to WisDOT by CH2M Hill.

From the draft:

The selected alternative is to widen I-94 to eight lanes in the study area (Safety and Design Improvements with Added Capacity Alternative). The selected alternative provides the best balance among sound engineering design, addressing long-term travel demand and safety, and minimizing overall social, economic, and natural resource impacts.

Selection was based on evaluation and consideration of all comments received during the public involvement process, public hearing testimony and other public comments received during the EIS availability period, comments received from state and federal review agencies, environmental and engineering factors, consistency with local and regional transportation/land use plans, and documentation on how the proposed improvements will address long-term traffic and safety needs.

The draft Record of Decision had blank pages where comments second public comment period could be listed. The draft then concluded:

Based on the analysis and evaluation documented in the EIS, and after careful consideration of all social, economic, and environmental factors, including comments received on the EIS, it is FHWA’s decision to adopt the selected alternative contained therein as the proposed action for this project.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

In order to "save" southeast Wisconsin from expanding it's freeways, you may have to consider litigation.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous posting that litigation may be necessary to stop both the Federal Highway Administration and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation from expanding the freeway through Milwaukee area neighborhoods.

A great example of the type of litigation necessary to achieve this goal can be found in the nearby Waukesha and Washington Counties where the Highway J Citizens Group has been suing these roadbuilding agencies in federal court during the past 3 or 4 years to stop the Highway 164 road expansion there.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the Highway J Citizens Group's ongoing federal lawsuit, they should visit their website at www.hwyjcitizensgroup.org which has alot of great information on it.