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KDOT to Prepare Environmental Impact Statement


March 16, 2000 (Release 00-036)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News Contact: Ron Kaufman, (785) 296-3585

KDOT to Prepare Environmental Impact Statement On U.S. 59

The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), in consultation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), has decided to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed improvement of U.S. 59 between Lawrence and Ottawa. The FHWA is the federal agency charged with overseeing the preparation of environmental documents for federally funded highway projects.

"We received a large response to our Environmental Assessment (EA) of this project during the public comment period," said E. Dean Carlson, Kansas Secretary of Transportation. "When all the comments were considered, it was determined that the NEPA process would be better served by the preparation of an EIS."

"The FHWA is aware of the high public interest in this project," said David Geiger, Kansas Division Administrator for the FHWA. "The FHWA and KDOT share the same goal: making sure the public has confidence in the way environmental impacts are evaluated and how decisions are made. We hope the results of an EIS will help accomplish those goals."

In order to minimize project delay due to this decision, KDOT will begin work immediately on the process of preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The first step is to meet with other involved agencies to determine the range of alternatives and impacts and the significant issues to be addressed in the DEIS. The DEIS will evaluate all reasonable alternatives for the project. It will also summarize the reviews, studies, and consultations required by the appropriate environmental laws.

"The process is working as it should for this project," Secretary Carlson said. "The Environmental Assessment (EA) we've already done showed us that it would be proper to do more analysis. Federal rules allow us to conduct an EIS at this stage and we want to take advantage of that to make sure we've examined the impacts thoroughly."

The DEIS is expected to be completed this fall. It will then be circulated for comment to public officials and members of the public known to have an interest in the project. After the DEIS has been circulated, a public hearing will be held. KDOT does not plan to hold any public meetings on the project until that time.

"However, KDOT is happy to discuss any concerns the public or public officials may have about this process at any time, " Secretary Carlson said.