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Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) projects and construction sometimes change the natural environment around a project area. To minimize the effects of road construction and development WisDOT works to reduce change to the natural environment and leads several efforts to restore project areas.
Related efforts to preserve the environment of a project area include:
- Wetland mitigation (preservation, creation, enhancement and restoration)
- Prairie restoration
- Archeological work
- Hazardous waste management
- De-icing procedures and salt reduction
- Storm water management
- Noise monitoring and noise walls
- Nesting boxes
- Erosion control
An environmental document is a full disclosure document that pulls together the public's and resource agencies' interests and concerns. They identify, evaluate and, if necessary, propose mitigation measures for the project's social, economic and environmental effects. Environmental documents identify a recommended course of action and are decision documents for highway projects.
There are three types of environmental documents:
- Environmental Assessment (EA) - The EA is used to determine whether a project needs an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to fully document its effect upon the quality of the environment.
- Environmental Report (ER) - ERs document coordination with affected resource agencies and confirms that the project is categorically excluded from requiring an EIS.
- Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - The EIS is used to discover and disclose the effects of Major Projects. If it is determined that an EIS is not needed, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is prepared and approved.
Both the National and Wisconsin Environmental Policy Acts require an EIS for projects with significant effects on the quality of the human environment. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead agency for the EIS on federally funded projects. WisDOT is the lead agency for projects funded only by the State of Wisconsin. EIS' are prepared according to federal/state requirements depending on how the project is funded.
The main parts of an EIS include:
- Purpose and need for the proposed action
- Project alternatives
- Environmental consequences
- Public and resource agency comments
An EIS has two stages. The first stage is a Draft EIS (DEIS). The DEIS discusses the "No Action" alternative and a range of reasonable "Build" alternatives along with their effects. The DEIS also includes and documents public involvement and resource agency issues and concerns, and measures to minimize harm caused by the project.
The DEIS is published, sent to affected members of the public and resource agencies, and placed in key locations in the project area, including:
- City and village halls
- County highway departments
- WisDOT regional office
During the 45 day (minimum) public availability period, citizens review the document and may send their comments to WisDOT. A public hearing is also held during the public availability period to give the public the opportunity to express their comments directly to WisDOT officials.
The Final EIS (FEIS) document, which includes public and agency comments and mitigation measures, is then prepared. The FEIS identifies the recommended alternative and reasons for its selection.
Finally, at least 30 days must pass from the time the FEIS is published before a Record of Decision can be made. The Record of Decision (ROD) identifies the mitigation measures that will be taken, and is the final environmental approval that is needed before an action analyzed in the EIS may proceed to final design and construction.
WisDOT Division of Transportation Systems Development, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified: December 20, 2013
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