[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 156 (Monday, August 15, 2022)]
[Pages 50159-50162]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-17446]



Federal Highway Administration

[Docket No. FHWA-2022-0022]

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
a Proposed Highway Project; Idaho Falls, Idaho

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Department of 
Transportation (USDOT).

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.


SUMMARY: The FHWA, in coordination with the Idaho Department of 
Transportation (ITD), is issuing this Notice of Intent (NOI) to solicit 
comment and advise the public, agencies, and stakeholders that an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared for 
transportation improvements to Interstate 15 (I-15) and United States 
Highway 20 (US20) in Idaho Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho. Persons and 
agencies who may be interested in or affected by the proposed project 
are encouraged to comment on the information in this NOI and the NOI 
Supplementary Information document. All comments received in response 
to this Notice of Intent will be considered and any information 
presented herein, including the preliminary purpose and need, 
preliminary alternatives and identified impacts, may be revised in 
consideration of the comments.

DATES: Comments on the NOI or the NOI Supplementary Information 
documents must be received on or before September 14, 2022.

ADDRESSES: This NOI and the NOI Supplementary Information document are 
available in the docket referenced above at http://www.regulations.gov 
and on the project website located at http://i15us20connector.com. The 
NOI Supplementary Information document will also be mailed upon 
request. All interested parties are invited to submit comments by any 
of the following methods:
     Website: For access to the documents, go to the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal located at http://www.regulations.gov or the project 
website located at http://i15us20connector.com. Follow the online 
instructions for submitting comments.
     Phone: Lisa Applebee at (208) 334-9180.
     Mailing address or for hand delivery or courier: FHWA 
Idaho Division, 3050 N Lakeharbor Lane, Boise, ID 83703.

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     Email address: [email protected].
     Project email address: [email protected].
    All submissions should include the agency name and the docket 
number that appears in the heading of this Notice. All comments 
received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov or 
http://i15us20connector.com, including any personal information 
    The Draft EIS will include a summary of the comments received.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information and/or to get 
on the project mailing list, contact Lisa Applebee, Operations 
Engineer, FHWA Idaho Division, 3050 N Lakeharbor Lane, Boise, ID 83703, 
(208) 334-9180, [email protected]; or Karen Hiatt, Program 
Engineer, Idaho Transportation Department District 6, 206 North 
Yellowstone Highway, Rigby, ID 83442, (208) 745-7781; 
[email protected].
    Persons interested in receiving project information can also use 
the project email address referenced above to be added to the project 
mailing list.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The FHWA and ITD are committed to public 
involvement for this project. All public comments received in response 
to this notice will be considered and potential revisions will be made 
to the information presented herein as appropriate. The FHWA, as the 
lead Federal agency, and ITD as joint lead agency/project sponsor, are 
preparing an EIS to evaluate transportation solutions on I-15 and US20 
in Idaho Falls and Bonneville County, Idaho. The EIS will be prepared 
in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 United States Code [U.S.C.] 
4321, et seq.); 23 U.S.C. 139, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) 
regulations implementing NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 
1500-1508); FHWA regulations implementing NEPA (23 CFR 771.101-
771.139); and applicable Federal, State, and local laws and 
regulations. Pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 168(d) and FHWA regulations 
regarding incorporation of the results of transportation planning 
studies as part the overall project development process consistent with 
NEPA, the results of the I-15/US-20 Planning and Environment Linkages 
(PEL) Study completed in December 2020 will be incorporated by 
reference into the EIS. The NOI Supplementary Information document 
includes additional details about how the PEL study met the statutory 
conditions in 23 U.S.C. 168. The PEL study report and related documents 
are available on the project website at http://i15us20connector.com. 
After completion of the PEL study in December 2020, ITD coordinated 
with appropriate agencies and major stakeholders to obtain concurrence 
that the purpose and need, preliminary alternatives, and potentially 
environmental issues included in the PEL study would be incorporated 
into the EIS by reference. The interagency planning process for the PEL 
study has coordination points for the Cooperating Agencies. These 
coordination points are intended to signify that the information is 
sufficient for each agency's purpose in the fulfillment of their 
respective statutory requirements. All public comments will be 
considered and changes may be made to the proposed project as a result.
    To ensure that a full range of issues are addressed in the EIS and 
potential issues are identified, comments and suggestions are invited 
from all interested parties. The FHWA requests comments and suggestions 
on the purpose and need, potential project alternatives and impacts, 
and the identification of any relevant information, studies, or 
analyses of any kind concerning impacts to the quality of the human and 
natural environment. The purpose of this request is to bring relevant 
comments, information, and analyses to the attention of FHWA and ITD, 
as early in the process as possible, to enable the agency to make 
maximum use of this information in decision making.

Purpose and Need for the Proposed Action

    The purpose of this project is to address safety, congestion, 
mobility, and travel time reliability for efficient movement of people, 
goods, and services on I-15 and US20 in or near Bonneville County and 
Idaho Falls. Improvements are necessary to address the following needs: 
unsafe travel conditions caused by substandard weave/merge distances, 
unacceptable level of service at signalized ramp terminals, and poor 
pedestrian and bicycle mobility along and across the corridors. The 
purpose and need may be revised based on comments received during the 
comment period on this Notice.

Preliminary Description of the Proposed Action and Alternatives the EIS 
Will Consider

    The proposed action is to reconfigure portions of I-15 and US20 
through Idaho Falls, including reconfiguration of the interchange 
connecting the two highways at Exit 119.
    The FHWA/ITD proposes to evaluate two build alternatives and the no 
action alternative in the EIS. The first build alternative (E3) moves 
the existing Exit 119 interchange north approximately 2,000 feet and 
realigns approximately 3,000 feet of US20. The second build alternative 
(H2) adds a new I-15/US20 interchange approximately two miles north of 
the existing Exit 119 interchange and realigns approximately three 
miles of US20. The No Action Alternative assumes no improvements other 
than those planned by others or implemented as part of routine 
    Additional information on the alternatives, as well as maps and 
figures illustrating the project location, are provided in the NOI 
Supplementary Information document available for review in the docket 
established for this project and on the project website noted in the 
ADDRESSES section. The alternatives may be revised based on the 
consideration of public comments. The range of reasonable alternatives 
will be finalized after consideration of comments received during the 
comment period on this Notice, and will be documented in the Draft EIS 

Summary of Expected Impacts

    The EIS will evaluate the potential social, economic, and 
environmental impacts resulting from the implementation of the build 
alternatives and the no action alternative. During the PEL study, the 
public and agencies identified which environmental issues and 
considerations will require the most attention by ITD to minimize 
project impacts during the environmental review process, as described 
     Wetlands and Waters of the United States (U.S.). Both 
build alternatives would require fill and removal from Waters of the 
U.S. considered jurisdictional by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
(USACE) and also impacts to wetlands considered to be jurisdictional by 
the Idaho Department of Water Resources and Idaho Department of Lands.
     Sections 106 and 4(f) Historic Resources. Both build 
alternatives have the potential to adversely affect historic properties 
within the study area. Both alternatives would impact the historic 
Antares Park neighborhood. In Alternative E3, the relocated I-15/US20 
Interchange would impact the historic grain elevators and associated 
industrial properties adjacent to the Eastern Idaho Railroad. Whereas 
the Alternative H2 may impact the historic farmstead located near 900 E 
49th N and its

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historic grain elevators and associated agricultural property.
     Section 4(f) Public Parks and Recreational Areas. There is 
a potential for noise and visual impacts from both build alternatives 
to public parks and recreational areas that are subject to Section 4(f) 
protection, including Antares Park, Idaho Falls Greenbelt, and Johns 
Hole Forebay Park. Both build alternatives would also likely cross the 
Idaho Falls Riverwalk. However, impacts to the trail would be temporary 
in nature and include trail detours during construction. Alternative E3 
may have minimal impacts to John's Hole Forebay Park and Antares Park. 
Potential effects to the Section 4(f) properties will be evaluated, 
avoided or minimized where possible as the project design is refined 
during the NEPA process and the Section 4(f) evaluation. Based on the 
preliminary design, it appears that the build alternatives would avoid 
direct impacts and uses of Russ Freeman Park.
     Environmental Justice. There is the potential for adverse 
impacts to environmental justice communities due to potential 
relocations as well as noise and visual impacts. Alternative E3 has the 
potential for direct and indirect impacts to AH Bush Elementary, the 
Kingdom Hall Jehovah's Witnesses Church and Antares Park, which are 
located within the environmental justice communities within the study 
area of the proposed project. Additional analysis and public 
involvement will be conducted during the NEPA review to assess if 
either of the two build alternatives would result in any 
disproportionately high and adverse impacts on the low-income and 
minority communities.
    The EIS will evaluate the expected impacts and benefits to the 
resources identified above as well as the following other resources: 
land use and right-of-way, farmland, social and community resources, 
economics, air quality, transportation, traffic noise, ecosystem 
resources (wildlife and threatened and endangered species), hazardous 
waste sites, and visual resources. The level of review of the 
identified resources for the EIS will be commensurate with the 
anticipated impacts to each resource from the proposed project and will 
be governed by the statutory or regulatory requirements protecting 
those resources. The analyses and evaluations conducted for the EIS 
will identify the potential for impacts; whether the anticipated 
impacts would be adverse; and the appropriate environmental mitigation 
measures. Additional information on the expected impacts is provided in 
the NOI Supplementary Information document available for review in the 
docket established for this project and on the project website as noted 
in the ADDRESSES section. The FHWA and ITD are inviting public input 
during the NOI comment period. The identification of impacts for 
analysis in the DEIS may be revised due to the consideration of public 

Anticipated Permits and Other Authorizations

    Permits and authorizations anticipated for the project include a 
USACE Section 404 permit under the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344) and 
Section 401 water quality certification (33 U.S.C. 1341). There is a 
potential that a Land Release Permit may be required from the Federal 
Aviation Administration under both of the build alternatives. The USACE 
has agreed to be a Cooperating Agency, the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency has agreed to be a Participating Agency, and the 
Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to be a Cooperating Agency.
    The FHWA and ITD will prepare evaluations under Section 4(f) of the 
USDOT Act of 1966, 23 CFR part 774, and Section 6(f) of the Land and 
Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, 54 U.S.C. 200302; will perform 
consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation 
Act of 1966, 54 U.S.C. 300101-307108 concurrently with the NEPA 
environmental review processes; and will consult with the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service in accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, to determine if additional permits or authorizations are 
required under any of these authorities.
    For the Idaho Falls Regional Airport, a short segment of 
Alternative E3 would encroach into the Runway 17-35 Protection Zone 
(RPZ), and Alternative H2 would impact a section of the Runway 20-2 RPZ 
and the navigable airspace to the northeast of the airport. The ITD 
will coordinate with the airport sponsor and the FAA to assess and 
mitigate any impacts to airport safety, and facilitate the required 
airport land release to ensure the airport sponsor's compliance with 
all applicable FAA grant assurances.

Schedule for the Decision-Making Process

    The project schedule will be established as part of the 
requirements of the environmental review process under 23 U.S.C. 139 
and will comply with 40 CFR 1501.10(b)(2), which requires that 
environmental reviews and authorization decisions for major 
infrastructure projects occur within two years (from the date of 
publication of the NOI to the date of issuance of the Record of 
Decision (ROD), and all necessary authorizations be issued efficiently 
and in a timely manner, in cooperation with the FHWA. A current draft 
of the Agency Coordination Plan, the Public Involvement Plan, and a 
milestone schedule are included with the NOI Supplementary Information 
document, which is available for review in the docket established for 
this project and on the project website as noted in the ADDRESSES 
    The anticipated project schedule is outlined below:

 Agency Scoping Meeting: October 12, 2022
 Public Scoping Meetings: October 18, 2022
 Notice of Availability of the Draft EIS (DEIS): September 2023
 Public Hearing: October 2023
 End of DEIS Comment Period: November 2023
 Issue FEIS/ROD: August 2024
 Issue all Project Permits and Authorization Decisions: 
December 2024 (if a build alternative is selected)

Description of the Public Scoping Process

    Project scoping includes the information developed during the PEL 
study through agency coordination and public outreach and through 
coordination activities with resource agencies since the PEL study.
    During the PEL study process, resource agencies were consulted 
regarding potential environmental impacts of the alternatives under 
consideration and in identifying issues to be addressed during a 
subsequent NEPA study. In addition, ITD conducted a robust program to 
involve the community and the public. Public input was requested and 
received at the following key PEL study milestones:

 Project visioning
 Purpose and Need and project goals
 Screening criteria used for the three levels of screening
 Alternatives development
 Results of Level One, Two, and Three screenings
 Final PEL study recommendations

    After the PEL study was published, FHWA and ITD held an early 
coordination meeting with potential Cooperating and Participating 
Agencies on June 21, 2021. During the meeting, the agencies reviewed 
the PEL study findings, including the project purpose and need, the 
recommended alternatives for NEPA, a summary of key environmental 
topics, and the study area. The meeting included a discussion

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of the anticipated roles and responsibilities of Cooperating or 
Participating agencies, planned pre-NOI activities, and a NEPA 
milestone schedule. Following the meeting, the draft Agency 
Coordination Plan with a project schedule and permitting timetable, the 
draft Public Involvement Plan, and draft resource analysis 
methodologies were distributed to the agencies for review and comment.
    A formal agency scoping meeting will be held October 12, 2022, and 
public scoping meeting is scheduled for October 18, 2022. Comments will 
be received from the agencies and the public during a 30-day comment 
period following the publication of this NOI. Monthly meetings with 
Cooperating Agencies and periodic meetings with Participating Agencies 
will be held throughout the environmental review process. The draft 
Public Involvement Plan and the draft Agency Coordination Plan included 
with the NOI Supplementary Information document describe how the public 
and agencies will continue to be engaged during the EIS. The DEIS will 
be available for public and agency review and comment prior to the DEIS 
Public Hearing.

Request for Identification of Potential Alternatives, Information, and 
Analyses Relevant to the Proposed Action

    The NOI Supplementary Information document includes the draft 
statement of purpose and need; a description of the alternatives to be 
considered; the Agency Coordination Plan and permitting timetable; the 
Public Involvement Plan; and a NEPA Milestone Schedule. With this 
Notice, FHWA and ITD request and encourage State, Tribal, and local 
agencies, and the public to review the NOI and NOI Supplementary 
Information document and submit comments on any aspect of the project. 
Specifically, agencies and the public are asked to identify and submit 
potential alternatives for consideration and any information, such as 
anticipated significant issues or environmental impacts and analyses, 
relevant to the proposed action for consideration by the lead and 
cooperating agencies in developing the DEIS. Any information presented 
herein, including the preliminary purpose and need, preliminary range 
of alternatives and identification of impacts may be revised after 
consideration of the comments. Comments must be received by September 
14, 2022.
    There are several methods to submit comments as described in the 
Addresses section of this Notice. Any questions concerning this 
proposed action, including comments relative to potential alternatives, 
information, and analyses, should be directed to FHWA at the physical 
address, email address, or phone number provided in the For Further 
Information Contact section of this Notice.
    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; 23 CFR part 771.

Peter J. Hartman,
Division Administrator, Boise, Idaho.
[FR Doc. 2022-17446 Filed 8-12-22; 8:45 am]