Alternatives Development and Screening Methodology Report


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Alternatives Development and Screening Methodology Report
I-15 Farmington to Salt Lake City Environmental Impact Statement
Lead agency: Utah Department of Transportation April 7, 2022
The environmental review, consultation, and other actions required by applicable federal environmental laws for this project are being or have been carried out by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) pursuant to 23 United States Code 327 and a Memorandum of Understanding dated January 17, 2017, extended to April 29, 2022, and executed by the Federal Highway Administration and UDOT.

Contents
1.0 Introduction .......................................................................................................................................................2 2.0 Alternatives Development and Screening Process ..........................................................................................5
2.1 Concept Development Phase .................................................................................................................5 2.2 Screening Phase (Level 1 and Level 2 Screening) ................................................................................5
2.2.1 Level 1 Screening ......................................................................................................................6 2.2.2 Level 2 Screening ......................................................................................................................8 2.3 Preliminary Engineering Phase ............................................................................................................10 3.0 Agency and Public Involvement......................................................................................................................10 4.0 Reasons Why Alternatives or Concepts Might Be Eliminated ........................................................................11 4.1 NEPA Regulations and Council on Environmental Quality Guidance ..................................................11 4.2 Clean Water Act Requirements ............................................................................................................12 4.3 Section 4(f)/Section 6(f) Requirements.................................................................................................13 5.0 Tools Used......................................................................................................................................................14 5.1 Travel Demand and Microsimulation Models .......................................................................................14 5.2 GIS Data ...............................................................................................................................................14
Tables
Table 1. Level 1 Screening Criteria (Purpose and Need)...........................................................................................7 Table 2. Level 2 Screening Criteria (Impacts) ............................................................................................................8
Figures
Figure 1. I-15 EIS Study Area.....................................................................................................................................3 Figure 2. Overview of the I-15 EIS Alternatives Development and Screening Process.............................................4

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1.0 Introduction

This report describes the concepts and alternatives development and screening process that will be used for the Interstate 15 (I-15) Farmington to Salt Lake City Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is preparing the EIS to evaluate transportation improvements on I-15 between Farmington and Salt Lake City (Figure 1). A summary of the purpose of and need for the project is provided in Section 2.2.1, Level 1 Screening.

What is the purpose of this report?
This report describes the concepts and alternatives development and screening process that will be used for the I-15 EIS.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has assigned its responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal environmental laws to

UDOT for highway projects in Utah, pursuant to 23 United States Code (USC) Section 327, in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dated January 17, 2017, and extended to April 29, 2022. In accordance with the assignment MOU, UDOT is carrying out the environmental review process for the I-15 Project in lieu of FHWA and serves as the lead agency in the NEPA process. The assignment MOU does not change the roles and responsibilities of any other federal agency whose review or approval is required for the project.

What is a concept?
A concept is a preliminary alternative. The term concept is used before screening, and the term alternative is used after screening on this project.

The concepts and alternatives development and screening process will consist of the following four phases:

1. Develop initial concepts for I-15 mainline, interchanges, and multimodal connectivity improvements.

2. Apply first-level (Level 1, purpose and need) screening criteria to eliminate concepts that do not meet the purpose of and need for the project. Refine the concepts that pass first-level screening for further evaluation in second-level screening.

3. Apply second-level (Level 2, impacts) screening criteria to eliminate concepts that meet the purpose of and need for the project but would be unreasonable for other reasons—for example, a concept that would have unreasonable impacts to the natural and human environment, would not meet regulatory requirements, or could be replaced by a less costly concept with similar impacts to the natural and human environment.

4. Combine concepts that pass Level 2 screening into alternatives and conduct preliminary engineering. The alternatives will be refined to avoid and minimize impacts to the natural and human environment and will be designed to a higher level of detail before UDOT performs the detailed impact analyses for the EIS.

Figure 2 presents an overview of the alternatives development and screening process.

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Figure 1. I-15 EIS Study Area

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Figure 2. Overview of the I-15 EIS Alternatives Development and Screening Process
Develop Concepts to be Evaluated
Concept Level 1 Screening: Purpose and Need
Concept Level 2 Screening: Environmental Impacts and
Costs
Combine Concepts that Pass Screening into Alternatives and Conduct Preliminary Engineering
Detailed Alternatives Evaluation in
DEIS
The alternatives development and screening process described in this report will provide critical information about how well an alternative or concept satisfies the project’s purpose and whether it is reasonable under NEPA, practicable under the Clean Water Act, and prudent and feasible under Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966. For more information regarding regulations considered in this screening process, see Section 4.0, Reasons Why Alternatives or Concepts Might Be Eliminated. The results of the screening process will be presented in a memorandum and summarized in the EIS. The alternatives development and screening process is designed to be dynamic. If a new concept is developed later in the process, it will be subject to the same screening process as all of the other concepts, as described in this report. The No-Action Alternative is not subject to the screening process because evaluation of the No-Action Alternative is a requirement of NEPA; the No-Action Alternative will be fully evaluated in the EIS.

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2.0 Alternatives Development and Screening Process
2.1 Concept Development Phase
UDOT will develop an initial list of concepts to be evaluated from previous studies and from local and regional land-use and transportation plans. UDOT will also solicit public and agency input on concepts during the formal scoping public comment period in the spring of 2022. In general, the basic concepts could include:
• Capacity improvements to I-15 such as adding general-purpose, high-occupancy, or auxiliary lanes and interchange improvements
• Additional or modified accesses to and from I-15
• Additional or modified road, bicycle, and pedestrian crossings of I-15
• Additional or modified multimodal connections to FrontRunner stations, regional transit access, and trails
• Transportation System Management (TSM) solutions
• Combinations of any of the above
• Other reasonable concepts identified during the EIS process
All proposed concepts will be developed to an equal level of detail to allow for objective screening. To accommodate Level 1 screening, UDOT will develop the proposed concepts in enough detail to evaluate traffic operations on I-15 or at the I-15 interchanges.
2.2 Screening Phase (Level 1 and Level 2 Screening)
The screening phases test each of the initial concepts using criteria that identify whether the concept meets the purpose of the project (Level 1 screening) and then evaluates the concept’s impacts to the natural and human environment, estimated project costs, logistical considerations, and overall feasibility (Level 2 screening).
After the initial list of concepts is developed for I-15 mainline, interchanges, and multimodal connectivity, the concepts will go through the Level 1 screening process. The concepts that pass first-level screening will be refined for Level 2 screening.
The concept screening phases will be supported by technical analyses to help UDOT refine the concepts and identify those concepts that meet the purpose of the project. This report explains how the process will occur and the criteria that will be applied. The results of the screening process will be documented in a separate screening report.

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2.2.1 Level 1 Screening

During the Level 1 screening phase, each of the initial concepts will be evaluated using criteria that identify whether the concept meets the purpose of the project.
The purpose of Level 1 screening is to determine which concepts meet

What is the purpose of Level 1 screening?
The purpose of Level 1 screening is to determine which

the project’s purpose and eliminate concepts that do not meet the

concepts meet the project’s

project’s purpose. Concepts that are determined by UDOT to not meet the purpose of the project will be considered unreasonable for NEPA purposes, not practicable for Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1)

purpose and eliminate concepts that do not meet the purpose of the project.

purposes, not prudent or feasible for Section 4(f) purposes, and not

practical for Section 6(f) conversion purposes. Such concepts will not be carried forward for further analysis.

The basis for that determination will be documented in the screening results memorandum. For more

information, see Section 4.0, Reasons Why Alternatives or Concepts Might Be Eliminated.

Purpose of the Project
The purpose of the I-15 project is to improve safety, replace aging infrastructure, provide better mobility for all travel modes, strengthen the state and local economy, and better connect communities along I-15 from Farmington to Salt Lake City. Meeting the project purpose is measured by whether or how well a concept addresses the following objectives, which are organized by UDOT’s Quality of Life Framework categories of Good Health, Connected Communities, Strong Economy, and Better Mobility.

Improve Safety
• Improve the safety and operations of the I-15 mainline, interchanges, bicycle and pedestrian crossings, and the supporting roadway network.

Better Connect Communities
• Be consistent with planned land use, growth objectives, and transportation plans. • Enhance access and connectivity to FrontRunner, to regional transit and trails, and across I-15.

Strengthen the Economy
• Replace aging infrastructure on I-15. • Enhance the economy by reducing travel delay on I-15.
Improve Mobility for All Modes
• Improve mobility and operations on the I-15 mainline, I-15 interchanges, the supporting roadway network, transit connections, and bicyclist and pedestrian facilities to help accommodate projected travel demand in 2050.

What is travel demand?
Travel demand is the expected number of transportation trips in an area. Travel demand can be met by various modes of travel, such as automobile, bus, commuter rail, carpooling, and bicycling.

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Level 1 Screening Criteria
UDOT developed Level 1 screening criteria based on the need to improve safety, reliability, and mobility on I-15 and its interchanges from Farmington to Salt Lake City. The initial concepts will be screened against criteria pertaining to travel demand, safety, and pedestrian and bicycle access and connectivity (Table 1). To accommodate Level 1 screening, UDOT will develop the initial concepts in enough detail to allow UDOT to use the Wasatch Front Regional Council’s (WFRC) travel demand model to forecast the future traffic volumes and associated congestion for I-15. (For more information about the travel demand model, see Section 5.1, Travel Demand and Microsimulation Model.)
When UDOT reviews the Level 1 screening results, the initial concepts will be eliminated if they fail to meet the Level 1 screening criteria. The concepts that pass first-level screening will be refined and advanced to Level 2 screening.

Table 1. Level 1 Screening Criteria (Purpose and Need)

Quality of Life Category

Criterion

Measure

Improve Safety

Improve the safety and operations of the I-15 mainline, interchanges, bicycle and pedestrian crossings, and the supporting roadway network.

• Does the concept meet UDOT’s safety standards (such as curvature, lane and shoulder widths, access, and sight distance)?
• Does the concept meet UDOT’s operational standards (such as traffic weaving, ramp operations, queuing, etc.)?
• Can the concept be designed to reduce conflicts between motorized and nonmotorized modes?
• Does the concept improve bicycle and pedestrian accommodations at cross streets or interchanges?

Better Connect Communities

Be consistent with planned land use, growth objectives, and transportation plans.

• Is the concept consistent with land use and transportation plans? (Yes/No)

Enhance access and connectivity to FrontRunner, to regional transit and trails, and across I-15.

• Can the concept be designed to improve connectivity to FrontRunner stations? (Yes/No)
• Can the concept be designed to enhance multimodal access across I-15 and connectivity to regional trails? (Yes/No)

Strengthen the Economy
Improve Mobility for All Modes

Replace aging infrastructure on I-15.
Enhance the economy by reducing travel delay on I-15.
Improve mobility and operations on the I-15 mainline, I-15 interchanges, the supporting roadway network, transit connections, and bicyclist and pedestrian facilities to help accommodate projected travel demand in 2050.

• Does the concept address I-15 aging infrastructure needs? (Yes/No)
• Does the concept reduce daily hours of delay on I-15, interchanges, and cross streets in 2050?
• Does the concept decrease through-traffic travel time on I-15 during the AM and PM peak periods?a
• Does the concept improve average speed on I-15 during the AM and PM peak periods?a

a Both of these metrics will compare traffic conditions with the concepts versus the no-action conditions during the AM and PM peak 4-hour periods in 2050. Peak periods are the periods of the day with the greatest amounts of traffic. For the I-15 project, the AM (morning) peak period is from 6 AM to 10 AM, and the PM (afternoon) peak period is from 3 PM to 7 PM.

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2.2.2 Level 2 Screening

The purpose of Level 2 screening is to identify concepts that are practicable and reasonable and eliminate concepts that are not practicable and reasonable. During Level 2 screening, UDOT will collectively evaluate the concepts that passed Level 1 screening against criteria that focus on the concepts’ impacts to the natural and built environment, estimated project costs, logistical considerations, and technological feasibility.

What is the purpose of Level 2 screening?
The purpose of Level 2 screening is to identify concepts that are practicable and reasonable and eliminate concepts that are not practicable

Although public and agency involvement is critical throughout the entire

and reasonable.

concepts development and screening process, the comments received

from the public and agencies during the public scoping period will be particularly relevant during Level 2

screening. Several of the Level 2 screening criteria focus on local and community elements and regulated

resources, so the public and agency scoping comments that pertain to these elements will be critical to this

phase of screening.

Table 2 lists the Level 2 screening criteria.

Table 2. Level 2 Screening Criteria (Impacts)

Criterion

Measure

Impacts to the natural environment

• Acres and types of aquatic resources (wetlands, streams, and springs)a • Linear feet of ditches and creeks affected • Acres of floodplains affected

Access to transit and nonmotorized facilities Impacts to Section 4(f) and Section 6(f) resources Impacts to the built environment
Cost, technology, and logistics

• Number and relative quality of connections to regional transit facilities and regional trails
• Number and type of Section 4(f) usesb • Number and type of Section 6(f) conversionsb
• Number and area of parks, trails, and other recreation resources • Number of community facilities • Number of potential property acquisitions, including residential and business relocations • Number of cultural resources (for example, historic and archaeological resources) affected • Assessment of the potential impacts and benefits to low-income or minority populations (environmental
justice populations)c
• Estimated project cost (general) • Constructability given available technology • Logistical considerations

a Consistent with the avoidance and minimization concepts of the Clean Water Act, a concept with the potential to impact a substantially greater number of delineated aquatic features could be eliminated from detailed study in the EIS. However, UDOT will not eliminate a concept from detailed study in the EIS unless it is clear that the concept would not comply with the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines. For more information, see Section 4.2, Clean Water Act Requirements.
b Based on the requirements of Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 and Section 6(f) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, a concept with substantially greater Section 4(f) or Section 6(f) impacts could be eliminated from detailed study in the EIS. For more information, see Section 4.3, Section 4(f)/Section 6(f) Requirements.
c Areas with higher percentages of low-income or minority populations are identified using U.S. Census data.

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The overall process for Level 2 screening will be as follows:

• The team will develop basic alignments and footprints, including rights of way, for the concepts carried forward from Level 1 screening. During this step, the team will adjust or modify the concept design to try to minimize impacts to natural resources and the built environment. (Concepts that pass Level 2 screening will be further refined during the engineering process.)

o Project engineers will review the concepts to make sure they continue to meet basic requirements for roadway design and safety.

• Project engineers will evaluate the concepts for costs, logistical considerations, and technological feasibility and will determine whether any of the concepts would have substantially greater impacts or costs without having substantially greater benefits.

• The team will convert the concepts’ footprints to geographic information systems (GIS) format, and a GIS analysis will be performed to determine the amount of resource impacts for each concept.

• The concepts’ effects on the resources listed above in Table 2 will be compared to determine the reasonable concepts that will be advanced for detailed analysis in the Draft EIS.

Using the information gathered from Level 2 screening, UDOT will determine which concepts should be combined into corridor-wide alternatives to study in detail in the EIS. More information about each of these steps is provided below.

Estimate Impacts to Natural Resources and the Built Environment. Using GIS software, UDOT will estimate how each concept that passed

What are Sections 4(f) and 6(f)?

Level 1 screening might affect resources such as wetlands and other

For more information about

waters of the United States, Section 4(f) and Section 6(f) resources,

Sections 4(f) and 6(f), see

existing and planned parks and trail systems, cultural resources, and community facilities such as schools, senior centers, fire stations, and

Section 4.3, Section 4(f)/ Section 6(f) Requirements.

community gathering places. The amount of impacts will be determined

by overlaying the estimated right of way for each concept on the GIS

datasets for these resources. UDOT will use the same approach to identify the expected number of impacts

to homes and businesses, property acquisitions, and community and environmental justice impacts.

Compare Impacts and Costs to Benefits. UDOT will use the screening results to determine whether any of the concepts would have substantially greater impacts or costs without having substantially greater benefits. Concepts that have the same or similar benefits as other concepts but have substantially greater impacts or costs will be eliminated and considered unreasonable for NEPA purposes.

Evaluate Concepts for Consistency with Permitting Requirements. UDOT will evaluate the concepts independently for their consistency with applicable permitting requirements. If the impact assessment indicates that an individual Section 404 permit could be required for one or more concepts, UDOT will consider whether a concept is likely to be practicable for Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) purposes. If UDOT determines that the concept is likely to be practicable and could have less adverse impacts to the aquatic environment than other concepts, it will be retained for detailed analysis in the EIS.

If the impact assessment indicates that a Section 4(f) use with greater–than–de minimis impact could be required for one or more concepts, UDOT will consider whether a concept is prudent and feasible for Section 4(f) purposes. If a concept is found by UDOT to be prudent and feasible and to have less adverse impacts to Section 4(f) resources than other concepts, it will be retained for detailed analysis in the EIS.

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Alternatives Development and Screening Methodology Report