Environmental analyses and documentation are part of the overall Project Planning process and are required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA). As with every significant federally funded transportation project, NEPA requires that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be prepared for the I-270/US 15 Multi-Modal Corridor Study.
An EIS is a document that describes the impact of the proposed alternatives (transit and highway) on the environment. The environment can be defined as the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment. Impacts to the environment can be positive or negative or both. An EIS describes impacts, as well as ways to mitigate (lessen or remove) negative impacts.
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was conducted for this study and the results were released in 2002. The purpose of the DEIS, as well as the current studies, is to ensure that all required environmental documentation and agency coordination are completed in compliance with NEPA and all associated State and Federal laws and regulations.
The current planning study, known as an Alternative Analysis/Environmental Assessment (AA/EA), serves as a companion to the 2002 DEIS. The companion designation means Alternatives 6A/B and 7A/B were added to the project after the DEIS was completed. These alternatives have been examined to the same level of environmental review as the alternatives in the 2002 DEIS. The results are documented in the I-270/US 15 Multimodal Corridor AA/EA which was released in May 2009. Public hearings to provide an opportunity for public and private testimony were held on June 16 and 18, 2009.
The DEIS and AA/EA are followed by the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The FEIS identifies a preferred alternative, responds to comments received on the DEIS and AA/EA, shows compliance with related environmental statutes such as the National Historic Preservation Act, and identifies commitments made to mitigate impacts of the project.
The Record of Decision (ROD) is the final step in the EIS process. The ROD is a concise report that states FTA's and FHAW's determination that NEPA has been completed for the proposed project. It describes the basis for the decision, identifies alternatives that were considered and summarizes specific mitigation measures that will be incorporated into the project. With a ROD, the project may proceed into final design and construction.