Phase 1 of
the Placer Parkway Corridor Preservation Project was to identify a
reasonable range of alternatives. These corridor alignment alternatives
(see CORRIDOR ALTERNATIVES) are
analyzed in Phase 2 – the Tier 1 Program Environmental Impact
Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Tier 1 EIS/EIR).
Plans for large
infrastructure projects, such as the Placer Parkway, are developed over
many years. Generally, greater detail becomes available as the planning
process moves forward. To make sure that environmental analysis is
included and considered as early in the process as feasible, federal and
State environmental laws allow for a tiered environmental review.
“Tiering” is a streamlining concept for large infrastructure projects
with several stages or phases. It is a way to focus environmental
studies during the planning process at the same level of detail as the
Tier 1 EIS/EIR
This document coordinates federal (National Environment
Policy Act – NEPA) and State (California Environmental Quality Act –
CEQA) requirements for the Placer Parkway Corridor Preservation Project.
It will evaluate the corridor alternatives and will lead to the
selection of one corridor for right-of-way preservation.
The Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA), the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans),
and the South Placer Regional
Transportation Authority (SPRTA) propose to select and preserve a
corridor for the future construction of the Placer Parkway. FHWA
is the NEPA lead agency. SPRTA is the CEQA lead agency. SPRTA
authorized Placer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA) to carry
out the work.
The following steps are being taken to complete the Placer Parkway
Corridor Preservation Tier 1:
The scoping process solicited input from the public and agencies
regarding the extent and significant environmental issues to be
addressed in the environmental document. The
Notice of Intent (NOI),
to address NEPA provisions, was published in the Federal Register on
September 18, 2003. The Notice of Preparation (NOP), to address CEQA
provisions, was sent to the State Clearinghouse on September 22,
2003 as well as to interested agencies, organization, and
individuals. These notices serve as the official legal notice that
the Tier 1 EIS/EIR is to be prepared.
As part of the scoping process, two public scoping meetings were
held. The first, on October 6, 2003, was in Roseville. The second
was held in Pleasant Grove on October 9, 2003. For background and recap, see
Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR (2007)
It evaluates the corridor alternatives, identified by the SPRTA
Board in September 2005. It will lead to the selection of one
corridor for right-of-way preservation. The Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR emphasizes the relative differences among the corridor alternatives
regarding potential impacts. This information will allow for an
informed choice among the alternatives. The Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR
focuses on broad topics such as general location, mode choice, and
area-wide air quality and land use, along with other environmental
issues. It also identifies mitigation strategies to be used in
later design/construction (Tier 2) environmental reviews.
The Draft Tier 1 EIR/EIS was released for public review and comment
on July 2, 2007. Public hearings were held in Yuba City on
August 6, 2007 and in Roseville on August 8, 2007 to get comments on
the Draft. The extended comment period closed on September 25,
2007 (for more info, see PUBLIC OUTREACH).
- Partially Revised Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR (2009) February 27, 2008 SPRTA Board Workshop:
This workshop was held in response to several comments about how the project’s access and no-development buffer components were treated in the Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR (released in June 2007). These components would limit access (no new interchanges) between Pleasant Grove Road and Fiddyment Road and would create a ‘no-development’ buffer along the future roadway. The limited access provision would ensure that the future freeway is free-flowing and reduce the potential for growth inducement. The no-development buffer would establish a variable area next to the freeway that would be protected from development, to enhance the ‘parkway’ concept and reduce the potential for growth inducement.
The comments identified concerns that in the future, new proposals by others might result in additional interchanges, or reduce/eliminate the no-development buffer, resulting in potentially more growth inducement. The workshop’s purpose was to develop a strategy to address these concerns and move forward with the environmental review process.
March 26, 2008 SPRTA Board Meeting:
The Board directed the staff to prepare and circulate for public comment, an analysis of these hypothetical future actions, even though they are not proposed by SPRTA, and are not part of the project described or analyzed in the Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR. The SPRTA Board felt that this approach would provide a fuller disclosure of potential hypothetical future impacts if such actions were proposed by others in the future as well as would provide a stronger foundation for later Tier 2 (construction-level) environmental work, which will analyze the roadway impacts within the selected corridor.
Based on SPRTA Board direction, the Partially Revised Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR was released for public comment in late January 2009 (see January 2009 NOA).
The Partially Revised Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR consists of two parts:
- updated data from the 2007 Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR and
- the analyses of hypothetical future impacts by adding interchanges and eliminating the buffer. This work provided information on:
- Growth inducement including another traffic study.
- Secondary/indirect impacts on biological resources – specifically habitat fragmentation – related to growth.
- Cumulative impacts.
The 45-day comment period ended on March 16. February public hearings to get comments were conducted in Yuba City and Auburn (see PUBLIC OUTREACH). The comment period was extended to May 11 (see March 2009 NOA).
February 25, 2009 SPRTA Board Direction
At this Board meeting, a summary was presented on the progress of the proposed project’s Tier 1 environmental review and the modified NEPA/404 processes. Because of the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA) stalemate with the federal regulatory agencies and the effect on completing the NEPA portion of the document, the SPRTA Board directed the staff to:
- Conclude work on the Tier 1 EIR under CEQA independently of the EIS under NEPA.
- Continue work with the regulatory agencies -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to resolve the LEDPA stalemate in a timely and cost effective manner.
- If required, organize and attend a follow-up meeting in Washington, D.C. with headquarters-level regulatory staff to resolve the LEDPA concurrence dispute.
- Final Tier 1 EIS/EIR
The FHWA, Caltrans, and SPRTA completed the Final Tier 1 EIS/EIR. It was released on November 16, 2009. The document addresses federal (NEPA) and state (CEQA) requirements to select a corridor within which the future Placer Parkway would be constructed.
Federal Resource Agencies Coordination
The Final Tier 1 EIS/EIR identifies the Preferred Alternative (NEPA) and the Environmentally Superior Alternative (CEQA), subject to selection by FHWA and SPRTA. The document contains comments received on the 2007 Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR and the 2009 Partially Revised Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR and responses to these comments. It also identifies changes to those documents as a result of the public comment process. It also includes the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program.
Of the five corridor alignment alternatives considered, the Final Tier 1 EIS/EIR identifies Alternative 5 as the Preferred Alternative and the Environmentally Superior Alternative subject to approvals by FHWA and SPRTA. This conclusion was based on the 2007 Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR, the 2009 Partially Revised Draft Tier 1 EIS/EIR, comments received on these documents, and on-going coordination with federal/state agencies and local jurisdictions.
Alternative 5 would have the fewest direct impacts to farmlands, wetlands, and Swainson’s hawk and white-tailed kite foraging habitat. It would be the least archeologically sensitive alternative. Alternative 5 would also:
- Have the least potential for inducing growth.
- Have the least potential for secondary and indirect impacts on biological resources – including the lowest potential for habitat fragmentation.
- Be the most consistent with the regional habitat conservation plan (PCCP) being developed by Placer Co.
- Be the shortest alternative which limits its potential direct effects and construction costs.
- Have Placer County, Sutter County, and City of Roseville support.
- Be the corridor most likely to contain the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA), as determined by the USACOE and USEPA. This was based on a conservation framework (to be implemented in tier 2), which would help to prevent new interchanges for an approximate 5- mile-long portion in the Western and Central segments.
Sutter County (as a Responsible Agency) has actively participated in the environemtnal review process. The Sutter County Board of Supervisors will separately consider approval of the Preferred Alternative within its jurisdiction, based on the Final Program EIR.
(Modified NEPA/404 Process)
In early 2003, work began on the Tier 1 environmental review. An underlying project planning goal was to avoid or minimize effects to biological resources – particularly to aquatic species and habitats.
Later in 2003, consultation began with federal regulatory agencies including the USACOE, USEPA, and to a lesser extent USFWS. The Corridor Preservation Project does not require construction permits such as a Clean Water Act (CWA) – Section 404 permit. This permit focuses on steps to avoid impacts to aquatic resources and habitat. The application for this permit would be made at the end of the Tier 2 (construction-level) environmental review.
To streamline the eventual Tier 2 permit process, SPRTA, FHWA, Caltrans, and the federal regulatory agencies, agreed to modify the NEPA and CWA 404 integration process for a Tier 1-level of review (modified NEPA/404). The objective is to ensure that Tier 1 decisions reflect careful consideration of 404 guidelines to eliminate the need to revisit Tier 1 decisions for the Tier 2 permit application. There are five concurrence points for the modified NEPA/404 process: (see MODIFIED NEPA/404 PROCESS)
- Purpose and Need Statement - completed October 2005.
- Criteria for Selecting the Range of Alternatives - completed October 2005.
- Range of Alternatives - completed September 2006.
- Alternative(s) most likely to contain the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA) - completed October 2009
- June 24, 2008 – FHWA/Caltrans/SPRTA submitted the LEDPA concurrence request
- August 14, 2008 – USACOE and USEPA issued a letter of non-concurrence
- October 15, 2008 – Informal (Mid-level Managers) Elevation Meeting
- December 16, 2008 – Washington, D.C. Headquarters Staff Meeting
- January 23, 2009 – Formal (Senior-level Managers) Elevation Meeting
- April 17, 2009 Conservation Framework Meeting
- May 11, 2009 Transportation Agencies Follow-up to Preliminary Draft Placer Parkway Alternative 5 LEDPA Options
- May 29, 2009 Conservation Framework Meeting
- June 12, 2009 No Access Easement Information for Regulatory Agencies’ Review
- June 26, 2009 USEPA Feedback Responding to Terms of No-Access Easement
- July 7, 2009 Transportation Agencies Response to USEPA Feedback
- July 14/21, 2009 USACOE, USFWS & USEPA Feedback
- August 5, 2009 LEDPA & Mitigation Framework Meeting
- August 13, 2009 FHWA Draft LEDPA & Mitigation Framework Concurrence Request
- August 18, 2009 USEPA Informal Approval
- October 2, 2009 USEPA Formal LEDPA & Mitigation Framework Concurrence
- October 29, 2009 USACOE Formal LEDPA & Mitigation Framework Concurrence
- Mitigation Strategy Framework - completed October 2009
Placer County Conservation Plan (PCCP)
Placer County is pursuing a Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP)
and Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Phase 1, for portions of western Placer County, will provide 50-year permit coverage for the following permits:
- Incidental Take Permit – Federal Endangered Species Act
- Incidental Take Permit – California Endangered Species Act
- Master Streambed Alteration Agreement
The PCCP will provide incremental 5-year permit coverage for the following Clean Water Act requirements:
- Programmatic Water Quality Certification
- Programmatic General Permit and LOP (> 3-acre impact)
- Regional LEDPA for western Placer County
For more on the proposed PCCP, see: http://www.placer.ca.gov/Departments/CommunityDevelopment/Planning/PCCP.aspx