July 19, 2018, the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) was made available to the public. See DOT&PF press release.
June 18, 2018, Federal Highway Administration approved the Final SEIS and ROD with the No Action alternative – Alternative 1 being the selected alternative (see documents). The combined Final SEIS and ROD is consistent with the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
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.
FHWA is currently operating under the provisions of the Map-21; which includes provisions for the timely delivery of transportation projects. FHWA issued a Final SEIS and Record of Decision (ROD) on the same day.
On April 3, 2006 the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a Record of Decision (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 upheld the District Court decision.
On September 14, 2011 the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) announced that it began the process with the FHWA to complete a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Juneau Access Improvements project. The SEIS evaluated a stand-alone alternative that improves service in Lynn Canal using existing AMHS assets (see Press Release). The supplemental EIS also updated the 2006 Final EIS reasonable alternatives and addressed changes in applicable laws, regulations, and approvals.
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 would 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 was 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.
On September 26, 2014, the 2014 Draft SEIS was released for public comment with Alternative 2B, the East Lynn Canal Highway to Katzehin with Shuttles to Haines and Skagway selected as the preferred alternative. Public comment was extended through November 25, 2014.
On December 15, 2016, the Walker-Mallot Administration selected Alternative 1, No-Action as the State's recommended preferred alternative. See the Governor's Office Press Release.