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Final Environmental Impact Statement is Released

After three years of preliminary project development, environmental studies, and cooperation and input from the public, the Project Management Team (PMT) has completed the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Hoover Dam Bypass Project. Notice of Availability in the Federal Register is scheduled for January 19, 2001. The 30-day notification period for the FEIS begins on January 19, 2001 and ends on February 20, 2001.

The release of this FEIS is one of the final steps in recommending a project alternative to resolve the traffic congestion, reduce accidents, and increase protection of the dam and waters of the Colorado River. Preparation of an environmental document is required by Federal law under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA is required for most federally funded projects to take into account project impacts on environmental factors such as wildlife, historic properties, noise, public safety, water quality, air quality, and traffic circulation. This document analyzes the final three project build alternatives and a no build alternative. Based on this analysis and direct public comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the FEIS identifies the preferred alternative and describes mitigation measures to protect the environment.

Following the 30-day notification period for the FEIS, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will prepare and sign a Record of Decision (ROD) for the project. The ROD will document the alternative selection decision (one of the three build alternatives or the no build alternative) and mitigation measures. If a build alternative is selected, the project will then proceed into design and construction.

Where to review the FEIS

The complete document and the technical appendices are available for your review at the following locations:

  • Boulder City Public Library, Boulder City, NV
  • Bullhead City Public Library, Bullhead City, AZ
  • Clark County Public Library, Las Vegas, NV
  • Green Valley Public Library, Henderson, NV
  • Henderson Public Library, Henderson, NV
  • Kingman Public Library, Kingman, AZ
  • Laughlin Library, Laughlin, NV

For web surfers, a complete version of the document and its appendices are available on-line through our project website at www.hooverdambypass.net


Federal, state and local agencies, private organizations and members of the public who provided substantive comments on the draft EIS will also receive a copy of the FEIS.

The Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative

The Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative has been identified as the preferred alternative of the Hoover Dam Bypass. This alternative includes construction of approximately 3.3 miles of new highway and a new 1,900-foot-long bridge over the Colorado River.

Starting from the Nevada side, the project leaves existing U.S. 93 near the Hacienda Casino andfollows a route just south of the existing road. It then crosses over U.S. 93 near the Bureau of Reclamation warehouse and back over existing U.S. 93 about 0.5 miles east of the warehouse to set up for a straight crossing of the Colorado River. The new roadway then crosses the river about 1,500 feet downstream of Hoover Dam and transverses the base of the northern slope of Sugarloaf Mountain. It then crosses a large wash and ties into existing U.S. 93 approximately 1.1 miles southeast of the dam. The adjacent map provides specific details of the preferred alternative.

Funding Update

Significant advances have been made in the efforts to acquire the necessary funds for the Hoover Dam Bypass Project. Arizona and Nevada have each doubled their monetary commitment and have agreed to respectively contribute $20 million to the proposed project. Federal funds allotted under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) provide $41 million for the Hoover Dam Bypass Project under the "High Priority Projects Program." In addition, the proposed project has received $33 million in Department of Transportation and Federal Lands Highway Program (FLHP) funding and $4 million in National Corridor Planning and development (NCPD) Program funding.

Arizona and Nevada will annually seek additional Federal funding. Based on the above, $118 million of the estimated $198 million necessary to complete the project has been acquired.

How The Alternatives Rated

Each of the alternatives were evaluated against specific screening criteria to measure benefits and potential impacts and aid in the decision making process. The screening criteria were developed by the PMT based on the requirements of the NEPA process, engineering and operational factors, and direct input from the public and government agencies. In comparison to the other alternatives studied, Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative rated the highest overall. Following is a summary of the seven screening criteria used in the evaluation:


Criterion 1 How well does the alternative meet the purpose and need of the project, considering engineering and operational standards, safety, traffic/freight capacity, and cost?

The Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative rated highest in this category due to its long, straight approaches to the bridge. This maximizes the sight distance for drivers and minimizes the possibility of an accident at the Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative bridge. In addition, the Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative is the least complex to design and construct.

Criterion 2 How does the alternative impact Section 4(f) land (public parks, recreation areas, wildlife refuges, and historic sites)? Impacts should be avoided or minimized pursuant to Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966.

There is no feasible or prudent way to completely avoid Section 4(f) land due to the extent of such land surrounding the Hoover Dam. Based on strong public concern regarding hazardous material spill potential from the Promontory Point Alternative, resource and regulatory agency support due to least impact to wildlife and water quality, visual considerations, the use of existing disturbed areas, and proposed mitigation measures, the Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative has been determined to be the least-harm alternative.

Criterion 3 How significant are the impacts to federally and/or state-listed threatened or endangered vegetation and wildlife species and sensitive habitats?

The Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative rated highest for this criterion because it is generally located along existing road corridors or through other previously disturbed areas. In addition, the Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative has no impact to the peregrine falcon breeding habitat and the least impact to habitat for desert bighorn sheep lambing and the desert tortoise.

Criterion 4 How significant are the impacts to cultural resources, including Hoover Dam National Historic Landmark (NHL) and archeological (prehistoric and historic) resources?

All three of the build alternatives adversely affect historic properties, ranging from 6 to 10 historic and cultural features impacted depending on the alternative. Only the No Build Alternative can be considered as meeting this criterion. However, the No Build Alternative does not meet the purpose and need of the project. Extensive consultation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the State Historic Preservation Officers, Native American Tribes, Land Managing Agencies, and the National Landmark Coordinator have resulted in identification of acceptable mitigation measures for the Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative.

Criterion 5 How significant are the impacts to aesthetic resources (including visual, noise, dust, and odors)?

From the perspective of visual impacts on the Hoover Dam National Historic Landmark, the Gold Strike Canyon Alternative rated best under this criterion because it is not visible from Hoover Dam. The Gold Strike Canyon Alternative also enhances the visitors' experience at Hoover Dam by moving the through-traffic out of sight and farther away than the other two alternatives.

The Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative was rated second over the Promontory Point Alternative because it does not alter the "first impression" historic views of Hoover Dam as visitors approach the Landmark from either the Arizona or Nevada side.

Criterion 6 How significant are the impacts on recreation resources and to tourists?

With no impact to the Gold Strike Canyon Hot Springs hiking trail or to the planned bicycle path along the historic railroad grade north of the Reclamation warehouse area, the Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative is the preferred alternative under this criterion.

Criterion 7 Degree of public and agency support.

The Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative was favored by a three to one margin by the approximately 160 individuals and public agencies who commented on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Almost all of the resource and regulatory agencies supported the Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative because of its minimal impact to wildlife, wildlife habitat, water quality, and waters of the United States.

The overriding concern regarding the Promontory Point Alternative was the potential of an accident on the bridge contaminating the stored water in Lake Mead and the impact to "first impression" historic views of Hoover Dam. Feedback regarding the Gold Strike Canyon Alternative indicated concern over extensive intrusion into a previously undisturbed landscape. Therefore, the Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative is the preferred alternative under this criterion.

The graphic below shows the alternative that rated best for each criterion. The Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative performed the best overall using the screening criteria established by the PMT and your input. Numerous project features have been included in the Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative to mitigate potential impacts and environmental concerns. The inclusion of wildlife crossings and fencing to prevent wildlife from crossing the new highway were instrumental in lessening the potential impacts. Treatment plans for mitigating cultural and historic impacts have been developed. Monitoring plans have been developed for sensitive species. When all elements are considered collectively, the Sugarloaf Mountain Alternative is the least harm alternative and addresses the project goals of traffic relief and increased safety.


 

For More Information
Call our project voice-mail at 702/369-6904 extension 234. Or contact :
tabJames D. Roller (HFL-16)
tab Project Manager
tab Federal Highway Administration
tab 555 Zang Street, Room 259
tab Lakewood, CO 80228.
tab Telephone: 303.716.2009
tab FAX: 303.969.5900


Last Update: 06.14.2005 12:33 PM

Homepage: www.hooverdambypass.org