What is a Tier 1 EIS?
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires agencies to consider the environmental consequences of proposed projects as part of their decision-making process. Given the scope, complexity and insufficient funds to implement, operate and maintain the proposed project, a "tiered" approach to the environmental review process was chosen for the SR 95 study. The Tier 1 EIS assesses the broad corridor-wide impacts of proposed improvements. More detailed Tier 2 environmental reviews would be needed to examine the potential impacts of the site-specific projects that are advanced to implement the Tier 1 alternative selected.
The environmental review process is designed to study and screen preliminary alternatives to identify "fatal flaws" by comparing their impacts and benefits based on measurable criteria. Alternatives that do not merit further consideration are eliminated, and feasible alternatives are advanced for further study, refinement and more detailed screening. This evaluation process ultimately leads to the selection of a preferred corridor alternative.
What will the SR 95 Tier 1 Draft EIS consist of?
The SR 95 Tier 1 Draft EIS will consist of these aspects:
- Project purpose and need
- Alternatives considered
- Affected environment and environmental consequences
- Strategies for minimizing or mitigating unavoidable impacts
The Draft EIS will also identify the preferred corridor alternative based upon ADOT's and FHWA's consideration and comparison of impacts, public and agency input, the ability to meet the purpose and need of the proposed action, and other project-applicable criteria.
The Tier 1 Draft EIS will document the planning process and describe the proposed improvements, potential impacts and proposed strategies for minimizing and mitigating negative impacts. It will also describe the steps taken to comply with Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, and the Final USDOT Environmental Justice Order 5610.2A. These steps include an assessment to ensure that the alternative selected does not have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on protected populations.