Revised Enviromental Public Comments Due Tuesday, February 9th — I-66 Outside the Beltway

Last summer, VDOT requested Environmental Assessment public comments for the I-66 widening project, and hundreds of folks responded with substantive comments.  The public comment period is required by Federal law, and the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA) must review the comments received.

To proceed forward with the I-66 widening in the short term, VDOT is relying on FHWA providing a “Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)” to the environment.  VDOT received many comments last summer that showed that there may be a significant impact.  Now, VDOT has revised its Environmental Assessment and has dismissed many of the comments received last June in their language to FHWA.

Now is YOUR chance to show FHWA why VDOT’s plans do have a significant impact to the environment and where they err in favoring Big Pavement over your environment!  Please see below for more information.  Note that comments are due to VDOT’s email address no later than Tuesday, February 9.

VDOT has prepared a revised Environmental Assessment of the I66 Outside the Beltway project for federal approval. The revision tries to dismiss the majority of public comments submitted last year as having been addressed or “studied” and dismissed (read more here). You can view the documents via the links below.

  1. Tier 2 Revised Environmental Assessment (EA)

(Take a look at sections 1.3.3 Environmental Consequences, 3.4.3 Preferred Alternative, Chapter 4 – Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences)

  1. Appendix A (which documents specific public comments and VDOT responses)

Don’t let VDOT have the final word! Comments are due Tuesday, February 9th. We need to ensure that the record states that many of the community impacts noted last Fall to VDOT still remain. And specifically that “The environmental impact of the proposed plan for the I-66/I-495 interchange is too high and alternatives must be further evaluated”. These impacts are documented on the links below if you wish to include any in your comments. Letter to VDOT: Remaining Impacts of the Proposed Changes to the I-66/I-495 Interchange

Highlights:

  • Less than half of the projected new noise impacts will be addressed.
  • The Preferred Alternative would result in property loss for 208 parcels (197 partial takings are not documented in the report).
  • The Preferred Alternative would result in 11 residential displacements, including loss of affordable housing near transit. Per EA, “this number is not inordinately high given the size of the project”.
  • The proposal ignores viable alternatives that would reduce the project footprint and environmental impact and induces traffic on ancillary roads and neighborhoods.
  • The report does not document the vertical impact of the project, including new ramp structures that will tower over neighborhood soundwalls. No noise mitigation plan has been proposed.
  • Loss of 118 acres of wooded areas, 60 acres of floodplains, 30 acres of wetlands, 106 streams will significantly impact our water and air quality and displace wildlife. No stormwater mitigation plan has been proposed.
  • The project might result in possible compensation events that would prevent extension of Orange line.

 

Submit your comments this week by email (Transform66@VDOT.Virginia.gov) to Ms. Susan Shaw, PE, and consider cc’ing your elected officials as well to fight on our behalf. Please reference “I-66 Tier 2 Revised EA” in the subject line for all correspondence.

Thank you for your support,

Transform66Wisely Team

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