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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How will this project be funded?
A. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has received Federal and State (Nevada and Arizona) money to complete the Environmental Impact Statement. Federal funding to design and build a new crossing is being sought by representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, the Nevada Department of Transportation, the Arizona Department of Transportation, and elected officials from the states of Nevada and Arizona.
The federal highway legislation (TEA-21) passed by Congress in May 1998 includes $41 million for the Hoover Dam Bypass Project. The funding falls under the “High Priority Projects Program,” as the Arizona projects 383 and 1814. Additional federal funding has been received in fiscal year 1999 under two federal discretionary programs – $2 million from the “National Corridor and Development Program” and $4 million from the “Federal Lands Highway Program.” Additional funding from these two programs will be applied for on a year-to-year basis.
Q. Why do we need a new river crossing along U.S. 93?
A. There are several reasons for developing an alternative to using the top of the Hoover Dam as the main crossing of the Colorado River:
  • The current two-lane highway across the dam, U.S. 93, can no longer adequately handle the 14,000 vehicles and trucks crossing per day, double the volume of 15 years ago.
  • This section of highway is narrow, winding and steep – inadequate and unsafe for the volume of traffic.
  • There is no other route in the western states that can efficiently accommodate this traffic.
  • The current highway conditions pose a potentially dangerous situation to Hoover Dam visitors and the dam facilities.
Q. Why is this route so important to the U.S. economy?
A. U.S. 93 is on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) route between Mexico and Canada, and it is also the major commercial route between the states of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. With delays and potential closures (from accidents) on this section of highway, industry around the country suffers from loss of time and money in transporting goods and services.
Q. Will a new river crossing accommodate present and future traffic volumes?
A. A new river crossing would be designed as a new four-lane highway that will safely accommodate present and future traffic volumes that rely on the U.S. 93 Colorado River crossing.
Q. If a new crossing is built, will the existing roadway on the dam remain open for public traffic?
A. The present roadway will likely remain open to Hoover Dam visitors. However, truck traffic will not be permitted on the dam.
Q. What are the environmental impacts to building a new crossing?
A. There are three proposed alternatives for a new crossing and a no-build alternative which will be studied in an Environmental Impact Statement. This study will determine potential impacts and any required mitigation, or measures to be taken to minimize impacts to the surrounding environment.
Q. Who “owns” the Hoover Dam?
A. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, a bureau within the United States Department of Interior, owns the Hoover Dam and its facilities. U.S. 93 uses the top of the Hoover Dam to cross the Colorado River. This crossing and the highway approaches on both the Nevada and Arizona sides are currently maintained by the Federal government. Because of the federal ownership of the river crossing, federal highway funding for a new river crossing is being pursued. Long-term maintenance and ownership of a new river crossing has yet to be determined.
Q. What is the schedule for this project?
A. The FHWA will be preparing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and expects to release the Draft EIS to the public in the Fall 1998. The Final EIS is scheduled to be completed by Summer 2000, with a Record of Decision following shortly after. Assuming funding becomes available and environmental clearances are obtained, a new river crossing could be completed by 2007.
Q. Why has the environmental process taken longer than anticipated?
A. In June of 1999 the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) revised 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 800 Protection of Historic Properties to include the 1992 amendments to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA). These revisions modified the process by which Federal agencies consider the effects of their undertakings on historic properties and provide the ACHP with a reasonable opportunity to comment with regard to such undertakings, as required by section 106 of the NHPA. The ACHP sought to better balance the interests and concerns of various users of the Section 106 process, including Federal Agencies, State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs), Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPOs), Native Americans and Native Hawaiians, industry and the public.

Part of the revisions included important changes that significantly alter the role of Native American Indian tribes in the Section 106 process for Federal undertakings both on and off Tribal lands. Ultimately, the revisions to 36 CFR 800 established that tribes should be involved early in the process and invited as signatories to a Memorandum of Agreement, or at least have the ability to concur or object to the part of a project or plan that will affect an area of tribal or Native American interests. This involvement includes discussion surrounding the identification, evaluation determination of effect and potential mitigation proposals for properties to which the tribes attach religious and cultural significance.

Compliance with the revised 36 CFR 800 regulations required additional ethnographic studies, interviews, and Agency/Tribal coordination. Resulting benefits of the process are (1) continued Agency/Tribal consultation and coordination regarding the project, and (2) Native American, as well as other historic specialist expertise, input regarding avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures.

Last Update: 09.27.2001 04:23 PM