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No.Due to the historical significance of this site, the Elkhorn Ranch Unit ofTheodore Roosevelt National Park is excluded from the project study area. Theexclusion of the property means construction is not, and would not be, proposedon the Elkhorn Ranch Unit property.
The EIS was initiated when the Notice of Intent was published in the Federal Register on October 12, 2006, Volume 71, No. 197. A second Notice of Intent was published on December 6, 2010, Volume 75 No. 233 due to a change in the study area.
Thecurrent EIS is different than previous environmental studies because it uses anexpanded study area, considers a greater range of alternatives, and followsprocedures contained in Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient TransportationEquity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).
Yes.A Coordination Plan was completed in February of 2007, updated in December 2011and is available under the Public Involvement section of the project website.
The purpose of the proposed project is to provide for the safe and efficient movement of people and commerce through promotion of a reliable transportation system within Billings County. Specifically, the purpose of the proposed project is to:
The need for the proposed project is driven by inadequate system linkage withinBillings County, specifically the lack of reliable river crossings, andincreased traffic demands from the oil and gas industry. Historically, BillingsCounty has seen a need for a new crossing of the Little Missouri River as earlyas the 1970s. The County documented concerns that roadways in the area wereunreliable in inclement weather, which made them virtually impassable, whilethe ability to cross the river has had to be negotiated with landowners ofprivate fords. TheCounty also identified the need for a river crossing to meet socioeconomicdemands within the area, such as industry development.
Arangeof reasonable alternatives is currently under development. Bothlocation alternatives and structure alternatives will be developed and analyzedwith the intent of avoidance and minimization of impacts in conjunction withmeeting the purpose and need of the project.
Theleadagencies of the proposed project are the Federal Highway Administration,North Dakota Department of Transportation and Billings County.
Alongwith the lead agencies, there are agencies that are considered cooperating and participating agencies.The “cooperating” and “participating” agency status does not imply support forthe project; rather, these agencies have varying levels of responsibility withthe project planning process. The US Army Corps of Engineers and the US ForestService are both cooperating agencies for the project. The participatingagencies for the project are as follows:
Throughoutthis process, agencies and interested parties, including the general public,will be asked to provide their comments and feedback through various public andagency meetings. Input and comments from agencies and the public will be alarge part of the decision-making process for the project.
However,the three lead agencies (Federal Highway Administration, North DakotaDepartment of Transportation, and Billings County) and the cooperatingagencies, using agency and public input as well as relying heavily on technicalstudies, will decide whether to approve the project.
Ultimately, the Federal Highway Administration will provide the final approval of the Draft EIS and Final EIS, and will issue the Record of Decision. In addition to their approval, the cooperating agencies (US Army Corps of Engineers and US Forest Service) will adopt the EIS, at their discretion, to fulfill their agencies’ requirements under NEPA.
Furthermore, a Section 404 permit approval may be required from the US Army Corps of Engineers and approval of right-of-way acquisition may need to be approved by the US Forest Service if right-of-way is needed on their land.
BillingsCounty is funding the environmental process and preliminary engineering to meetNEPA requirements. Possible funding sources for construction of the project maycome from the federal government and Billings County as follows:
Thesefunding sources reflect user taxes collected and dedicated to these types ofprojects. No new taxes are proposed directly as a result of any proposedalternatives.
Jennifer Turnbow, Project Manager
4585 Coleman Street
Bismarck, ND 58503