Juneau Access Improvements
AK DOT&PF Project No. 71100
Federal Project No. STP-000S(131)
Public comment period ends November 10, 2014.
Draft SEIS is now available for review and comment.
On September 18, 2014 the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) announced the release of the Juneau Access Improvements Project Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for review and comment. The public comment period will end November 10, 2014. A printed, hard copy may also be found at the following locations: Juneau Public Library, Douglas Public Library, Mendenhall Public Library, Haines Borough Public Library and Skagway Public Library (see Press Release).
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and DOT&PF are asking for input from the public on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS). An open house will begin a few hours prior to each hearing at all locations. The open houses will provide information about the Juneau Access Improvements Project DSEIS. The public hearings are to collect oral comments from the public about the Juneau Access Improvements Project DSEIS. Written comments may be provided at any time up to the November 10, 2014 closing date. The Juneau Access Improvements Project open houses and public hearings will be at the following locations and times:
|October 14||October 15||October 23|
Centenial Hall Convention Center
Open House 1:00 - 9:00 pm
Chilkat Center for the Arts
Open House 3:00 – 8:00 pm
Skagway High School
Open House 3:00 – 8:00 pm
Comments will be responded to in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. Means to comment include:
Mail: Juneau Access Improvements Project
Attn: Deborah Holman
DOT&PF Southeast Region
P.O. Box 112506
Juneau, AK 99811-2506
Fax: 907-465-2016, Attn: Deborah Holman
All communications received on the Draft SEIS are kept by FHWA as part of the project record.
Project Purpose and Need
Juneau, Alaska’s capital city with a population of over 31,000 residents is the largest community on the North American continent not connected to the continental highway system. The only public surface transportation available is the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS), a state-owned ferry system that provides transportation to many of Alaska’s southeast coastal communities. The purpose of and need for the Juneau Access Improvements Project is to provide improved transportation to and from Juneau within the Lynn Canal corridor that will reduce travel times, state and user costs while providing capacity to meet demand and improved opportunity to travel.
SEIS Alternative Descriptions (August 2013) and FHWA Approval Process for the SEIS
Due to changes in the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) Alaska Class Ferry service plan, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) have prepared updated descriptions of the alternatives being evaluated in the Juneau Access Improvements (JAI) Project, Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). These updated alternative descriptions take into account the new Day Boat ACF characteristics and operations.
Also, FHWA is currently operating under the provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (Map-21; see MAP-21 Overview), which includes provisions for the timely delivery of transportation projects. FHWA intends to name a preferred alternative in the JAI Project Draft SEIS and to issue a single, combined Final SEIS and Record of Decision (ROD).
In addition to this webpage update, postcard mailers and email notifications are being sent to those individuals who requested to be put on the JAI project mailing list, and individual letters/memorandums are being sent to regulatory agencies to advise them of the availability of this updated project information.
On April 3, 2006 the FHWA issued a ROD for the Juneau Access Improvements Project. The ROD selected Alternative 2B, the East Lynn Canal Highway to Katzehin with Shuttles to Haines and Skagway, as described in the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project released on January 18, 2006.
On August 16, 2006 the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and five additional plaintiffs filed a complaint in US District Court against FHWA and the US Forest Service (USFS). The complaint alleges the USFS failed to comply with the National Forest Management Act and FHWA failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Bald Eagle Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Administrative Procedures Act. The District Court issued a decision on February 13, 2009, ruling the FEIS was not valid because it did not include an alternative that would improve transportation in Lynn Canal with existing assets. The District Court did not rule on the other counts.
The State of Alaska filed an appeal of the District Court decision with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The State presented the argument that FHWA did comply with NEPA by evaluating a No Action Alternative that included projected improvements in Lynn Canal and that variations of this alternative are not required. On May 4, 2011 a three judge Ninth Circuit panel, by a two-to-one margin, upheld the District Court decision.
On September 14, 2011 the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) announced that it will begin the process with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to complete a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Juneau Access Improvements project. The SEIS will fully evaluate a stand-alone alternative that improves service in Lynn Canal using existing AMHS assets (see Press Release). The supplemental EIS will also update the Final EIS reasonable alternatives and will address changes in applicable laws, regulations, and approvals. DOT&PF anticipates the SEIS process will take approximately three and a half years. A Final SEIS / Record of Decision (ROD) is anticipated to be released in 2015. DOT&PF has contracted with the firm HDR Alaska, Inc. to prepare the SEIS and many of the required supporting documents.
The first step in development of the SEIS was a focused scoping effort to present the new alternative descriptions and seek comments on the studies, analyses, and updates that will be required. A newsletter describing the process was distributed to all postal addresses in the project area as well as inserted into local newspapers. Affected agencies, including past federal Cooperating Agencies and state permitting agencies, were consulted during the scoping period.
A Scoping Summary Report has been prepared explaining the 2012 SEIS scoping process and summarizing the scoping comments received. Appendices to the report provide copies of scoping materials, public scoping comments, agency comments, and comment analysis spreadsheets.