The 1988 State-level Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared to satisfy State requirements only. To make any resulting project eligible for federal funding, the current study has to satisfy federal requirements and comply with NEPA. Under this Act, an EIS was required because the proposed project has the potential of creating significant impacts on the environment and surrounding communities. In this case, an EIS differs from an EA in that it must address in detail a number of reasonable alternatives for meeting the transportation needs in the corridor.
The study has considered a variety of transportation modes and alternatives, travel reduction strategies, improving existing roads, and taking no action. Alternatives considered included previous freeway proposals as well as transportation system management/transportation demand management, transit (e.g., commuter rail, light rail, expanded bus services), arterial street network improvements, land use controls, new freeways, and a No-Action Alternative. The freeway option was determined to best meet purpose and need for the proposed action following a screening process. In addition, a freeway would result in additional benefits, including those related to system linkage, regional mobility, and consistency with regional and local long-range plans.