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Dam Bypass Update Newsletter,
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|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:
|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
|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.