July 16, 2004 | Thank you very much for meeting with us on July 15, 2004 to update us
Utahns for Better Transportation
c/o FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake
Salt Lake City, Utah 84110-2655
Federal Highway Administration
2520 West 4700 South Suite 9A
Salt Lake City, Utah 84118-1847
July 26, 2004
Thank you very much for meeting with us on July 15, 2004 to update us on the status of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) for the Legacy Parkway and related environmental documents and analyses. You and your colleagues asked that we write to indicate what information we would like to review, and when, and how this will affect our ability to comment when the DSEIS is released for public notice and comment. We will try to do so in this letter. We include some very narrow and precise questions below, and some answers to your questions. However, given the fact that so little information has been released by the agencies to date, it is difficult for us to provide a definitive statement of our needs at this time. (It is impossible, for example, to request all pertinent information before we even know what information exists or is being prepared.) In this letter we also summarize what we learned during the meeting and other requests that we presented orally at that meeting. We would appreciate a written reply to confirm your understanding of this information, or to correct any errors or misunderstandings.
You indicated that the agencies currently envision releasing the DSEIS for public review some time during late fall of 2004. We understand, of course, that this schedule may slip based on various factors. You also indicated that of the five technical memoranda being prepared in support of the SEIS, four are very close to completion, and a fifth (the wildlife analysis) is farther from completion. You also indicated, however, that the final technical memoranda would not be released to the public until very shortly before the DSEIS is released, if not at the same time. This is not our understanding of the proposed schedule and procedure that was outlined during the scoping process. We were led to believe that the technical memoranda would precede the DSEIS and be released significantly in advance of it, so that members of the public who are interested in the more detailed, technical analysis would be able to review and understand the agencies’ rationale in more depth. Therefore, we requested at the meeting that we and any other interested members of the public receive notice as soon as the technical memoranda are finalized, and that copies be available for public information.
We also inquired about the status of the travel demand model which is being used to evaluate various project alternatives, and asked specifically for our consultants to be able to speak with agency consultants for the very limited purpose of ascertaining what, if any, changes have been made to the model provided to us by WFRC in April, 2004. We reiterate that we have no intention of attempting to comment on or otherwise influence analysis being conducted by the agencies or their consultants at this time. Rather, we simply request answers to the following very specific and limited factual questions:
In April, we received Version 3.2 (February 10, 2004) of the WFRC model. At this time, we are seeking confirmation that no changes have been made. Specifically, have there been any changes to any of the following?
Future land use by transportation analysis zone (TAZ).
Future existing + committed (no build) road and transit networks.
If changes have been made to any of these aspects of the model, we would appreciate written information describing those changes. Regardless of when information regarding changes is released, however, we also requested that any and all changes to the April 2004 version of the WFRC model be fully documented, in writing, so that our reviewers can understand what model changes were made during the process, and why. As you know, failure to document model changes fully during the original EIS process resulted in significant confusion and delays.
We also asked about the status of the analysis of the proposed Redwood Road alternative (with an expanded Redwood Road serving as one component of a sequenced alternative to the current proposed “shared solution”) that we suggested to the agencies in January. You indicated that a “more aggressive” version of our proposal was being modeled to determine whether it would provide enough capacity to meet the stated project purpose and need. We asked that you inform us as early as possible whether, based on the ongoing modeling, this alternative will be evaluated as a full alternative in the DSEIS, a decision you indicated had not been made at this time. We expressed some concern, however, about your proposed change from our proposed “boulevard” concept, which would be consistent with if not enhance commercial and other compatible growth in the Redwood Road corridor, to a more aggressive “arterial” concept. While we understand that it is your intent to model an alternative that maximizes transportation capacity, and appreciate your efforts to look at changes in intersection design and similar factors to do so, you also indicated that an arterial version of this proposal would result in significant impacts to the North Salt Lake business district, potential property relocations, and similar disruptions to existing and future commercial and other development. If this would result in the proposed alternative being rejected on those grounds, we ask that both a boulevard and an arterial version of this proposal be evaluated fully.
During our meeting, your attorneys asked that we indicate how much time we believe would be necessary to provide informed comments on the DSEIS. In response to our question about the length of the public comment period, you indicated that a minimum of 45 days are required under your regulations. Given the tremendous complexity and technical nature of these issues, which you emphasized during the meeting, and delays in production and release of the technical memoranda and other background information on the project analysis, a 45-day public comment period does not provide nearly enough time for a fully-informed analysis by our members and our consultants. We request, therefore, that a minimum of ninety (90) days be provided for public review and comment on the DSEIS and the underlying technical memoranda and other background information. (As indicated above, it is impossible for us to indicate definitively how much time will be needed for our review and comment, without knowing anything about the nature and extent of analysis that will be provided. For example, we still have no information about what modeling or other form of analysis is being used to evaluate wildlife impacts.) Separate and apart from this minimum time requirement, we note with some dismay that it appears that, given your current proposed schedule, the public review and comment period will include the Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, and New Year’s holiday periods, when many members of the public travel and have family priorities. That is precisely what occurred during public comment on the original DEIS, a factor that rendered public comment extremely difficult. We ask that you avoid these holiday periods as much as possible, and take this into account as you plan for public hearings and the length of the public comment period.
Please address your reply to this letter to Robert W. Adler, 2915 E. Oakhurst Dr., Salt Lake City, UT 84108, and to Roger Borgenicht, 218 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111 Thank you again for meeting with us, and for your cooperation with these requests.
April 11, 2003 | The Scope of Work for the SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) for transportation improvements in south Davis County
Talking Points from Utahns For Better Transportation (UBET)
April 11, 2003
SCOPING THE SEIS
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)
Transportation Improvements in South Davis County
(aka The Legacy Parkway)
The Scope of Work for the SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) for transportation improvements in south Davis County will determine the range and depth of issues that will be addressed in the new studies required by the legal victory in the Legacy Parkway case. There are two main tasks required by the court decision: 1) address the insufficiencies in the Final EIS identified by the court, and 2) update information and analysis in the SEIS based on new information or developments that have occurred since the FEIS was issued and reconsideration of prior decisions where new information is significant.
The following is background information on the Scope of Work for the SEIS. In commenting on the scope of work, you should raise the following issues, and identify any information you believe is relevant to these issues.
10th Circuit Court Decision – Rulings in favor of UBET et al
- Sequencing – The court ruled the FEIS was inadequate because it did not analyze the impacts of different sequencing alternatives of the proposed transportation investments in south Davis County – the “Shared Solution” – that includes building the Legacy Highway, expanding the
I-15 freeway, and development of transit in the corridor. As UBET has argued all along, this means the agencies should seriously evaluate a “Transit 1st” alternative. The Court stated,
“Delaying the Legacy Parkway and I-15 project until after all or part of the public transit system expansion is in place is an alternative that could be reasonable and one the Agencies did not include in the FEIS, thus rendering it inadequate. Here, the Agencies were not faced with an unreasonable or speculative alternative; indeed, the Agencies relied upon public transit to meet part of the demand in 2020, and simply did not take a hard look at whether public transit could alleviate the immediacy of the need for the I-15 expansion of Legacy Parkway construction.”
- Integration – The court ruled the FEIS was inadequate because if failed to consider integrating the Legacy Highway with the expansion of public transit. An integrated approach to transit development is essential to make transit a viable and effective transportation option for some of our trips. The integration of transit system development coupled with supportive land use development patterns, road safety and efficiency improvements, and bicycle and pedestrian amenities are key to creating a balanced transportation system for our community.
- Road Alignment and Configuration – The court ruled that the Corps improperly issued the Clean Water Act (CWA) permit to fill wetlands to build the Legacy Parkway by dismissing an alternative road alignment with insufficient information. The court mentionned the D&RG alignment as one possible alternative but other road alternatives were also dismissed that would include linking arterial roads, frontage roads and connectors as an alternative vehicle route through south Davis County. The court also found the FEIS was inadequate because it did not consider the impact of a narrower right of way for the Legacy Parkway, which is proposed to have 330′ right of way.
- Wildlife Impact – The court ruled that the FEIS and CWA permit failed to adequately consider the impacts to wildlife. The court stated,
“Here the FEIS simply is inadequate to address the impact on migratory birds. Given that some two to five million birds use the GSL each year, a large portion of which are migratory birds, we find that limiting the wildlife impact analysis so that migratory birds are beyond its scope renders the FEIS inadequate.”
“Corps’s wildlife impact analysis, like the FEIS, was limited to consideration of impacts within 1000 feet of the project… we hold that the Corps acted arbitrarily and capriciously in granting the permit on this basis.”
New Information to Include in the SEIS
Under federal law, an EIS must be revised and updated to reflect any significant new information that has come to light since the EIS was issued, especially if it may affect project decisions.
Momentum has shifted 180 degrees in favor of transit development over the past three years. TRAX ridership and the vote of the people in 2000 to increase their own sales tax for more and better transit has every community wanting the next transit line. This shift in community desires and individual behavior needs to be factored into any new transportation such as the SEIS.
Travel demand and land use feedback models are being improved to better measure the impacts of various transportation investment strategies. New model capabilities will not be fully in place until end of 2003 and any new analysis should use the best tools we have for measuring the impacts and behaviors of different scenarios for dealing with the transportation impacts of population growth in the Greater Wasatch Area.